By Sneha Saloni and the Rotary Action Group for Family Health and AIDS Prevention
“The Rotary Action Group for Family Health and AIDS Prevention (RFHA) is a Rotary treasure. It changes lives. There are a lot of great things that Rotary members do, but there are only a few that can be called an actual treasure. RFHA is one of them. What it does for the people is beautiful and the impact is amazing,” shares Dr. Laura Kann, district governor-elect and RFHA Inc. adviser.
Kann has worked with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for 30 years. But she still felt there was something missing in terms of the work she was doing. After dedicating so many years working for public health on an international level, Kann couldn’t wait to work with the people on the ground level.
The Rotary journey
“I joined the Rotary family in 2004.” Reminiscing about her first meeting with Marion Bunch, RFHA Inc founder, Kann says, “I called up Marion and asked her if I could come and see her. She invited me the next weekend. I knew about her interest in working to help people with HIV and during that time, the program that I was working with in the CDC was also AIDS-focused. We had a lot of things to talk and discuss about. She ended up being my Rotary sponsor and a few years down the line, I started helping RFHA with consulting.”
“One of the things that attracted me towards Rotary was that this organization was into public health. I was working for public health on an international level, but I wasn’t working on the ground. Providing direct services to the people was what I wanted to do, and Rotary gave me that opportunity,” she says.
“As part of the Rotary Polio Mission, I got an opportunity to travel to India. With the CDC, I was only working with the high-level government officials. With Rotary, I was administering vaccines to babies, learning about the problems at the ground level. The experience was drastically different. Rotary works in a unique way within a country. It works with the people, bringing solutions to the tiniest villages. And this sets it apart from many other NGOs,” shares Kann.
What is RFHA
Describing the RFHA model, Kann says, “When people ask me what RFHA is, I always say that it is an organization that brings life-changing impact in the communities it serves. RFHA’s model is such that it allows family health days to focus on the problem of the moment. Its flexibility helps in addressing the public health issues society is dealing with in the present, and this is what makes it so special and impactful.”
“It is not a one-size fits all kind of model, but RFHA is set up in a way that it can address the needs of every community. One of the keys to the RFHA model is that it uses local people to provide health services which helps in building a bond of trust with the society. Rather than bringing some experts who know nothing about the community and its people, RFHA works closely with the locals who can easily reach out to their people,” she explains.
Helping destroy the stigma
She talks about the various stigmas and problems attached with AIDS and highlights, “One of the best things about RFHA is that it deals with the problems surrounding AIDS and related stigma in a tactful way. The family health program addresses AIDS along with all different health problems, thus reducing the stigma and making people feel that AIDS screening and intervention is not the sole reason they are receiving health services free of cost.”
“I feel this is the best way to deal with the stigma – address AIDS like another regular health problem and not a stigmatized health issue. RFHA’s approach does just that. RFHA has helped spread awareness and has saved many lives,” she adds.
Help the world heal
“The difference between those who have and those who don’t – is reflected in the healthcare system. A system that barely exists in some parts of the world,” Kann shares.
With the idea that public health system should be available to anyone in need, RFHA is transforming healthcare delivery through the Rotary Family Health Day program so that it reaches every individual. Empowering healthcare workers with resources to improve quality healthcare, RFHA has helped over 2.65 million patients by offering over 11 million free health services since 2011.
Your help will bring us a step closer in making health care accessible for all and give a happy-healthy life to many. To learn more, visit http://www.rfha.org or contact Sue Paget, CEO, RFHA Inc at +27 (0) 83 456 392 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rotary Action Group for Family Health and AIDS Prevention (RFHA) is one of Rotary’s 27 Action Groups started and led by Rotary members to bring expertise and resources to support clubs and districts in empowering communities within an area of specialization. Rotary Family Health Days, RFHA’s signature program, promotes healthy living and disease prevention by implementing a massive, annual campaign across parts of Africa and India that provides comprehensive, free health care services to tens of thousands of people in underserved communities.