“Welcome to Week THREE of RI’s Month of Fellowships.

The island countries of the South Pacific are tropically warm, economically diverse, and really, really far apart. In this region, which spans millions of square miles, even individual countries’ islands are scattered across vast distances. Public health workers face unique challenges in vaccinating the islands’ children. The news this week is from a report by Etelka Lehoczky where Rotary’s Give Every Child a Future program vaccinated over 100,000 children in several South Pacific islands. “It’s hard to transport vaccines to the outer islands because of the distance and transport availability. Sometimes they have to wait one to three months to get a boat across,” says Rufina Tutai, who oversees immunizations for the Cook Islands. The 15 islands in her jurisdiction are spread over nearly 2 million square kilometers (770,000 square miles). “Flights are expensive to charter, and we’re lucky if a flight can go to the outer islands in less than two weeks,” she adds.

Such obstacles did not deter the Rotarians of Australia, New Zealand, and several Pacific Island countries from organizing a major vaccination program in the islands. Called Give Every Child a Future, the effort – which celebrates 100 years of Rotary in the region – is providing three new vaccines to 100,000 children in nine Pacific Island groups: the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. Ultimately, the members applied for 23 Rotary Foundation Global Grants, securing more than US$980,000 in funds from The Rotary Foundation. The program was also funded by about US$807,000 in District Designated Funds, US$990,000 from clubs and individual members, US$264,000 from other foundations, and US$860,000 from the Australian government. That funding paid for much more than vaccines. It was used to purchase special refrigerators, insulated containers, and other equipment to keep vaccines cool and transport them to the most distant islands. The health ministries in the nine island groups will be able to use this equipment for many years. That fulfills the project’s other goal of helping the targeted areas add the three vaccines to their regular immunization schedules.” Submitted by: Christopher W Knapp, District 6000 Foundation Chair
#Rotary #rotaryinternational #ServiceAboveSelf

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