Source: RI District 9800's website/Google 

By John Davis, Foundation Chair, Rotary District 9800

This year District 9800 (Australia) has forged strong links with India, sending a Group Study Exchange team to visit District 3030 in Maharashtra State and hosting the Indian team in our own District. As the team observed, India is a diverse and developing country which has many needs, particularly within the field of public health. One such need has been for blood donations for medical treatment and this is the focus of the Rotary Foundation Global Grant Project undertaken by District 9800 in partnership with District 2980 in India and the Rotary Foundation.

Rotary Foundation Global Grants have a long-term impact and support large international activities with sustainable high-impact outcomes in one or more of Rotary’s six areas of focus (see below). With the support of  the Rotary Foundation, Rotary District 9800’s Global Grant in partnership with District 2980 in India enabled the purchase of 2 ambulances with blood collection systems to be supplied to the Thanjavur Medical College Hospital and Raja Mirashdar hospital, both of which have blood banks. The total project cost of US$65,000 was shared between the two Rotary Districts and the Foundation – a truly global effort.

With healthy blood in short supply, the ambulances will go from place to place in rural areas of District 2980 and collect blood from donors. The wide reach of these ambulances and the blood screening used to ensure the integrity and safety of the blood donations will also have a further benefit to the communities visited by the ambulances.

They will mean that for the first time a large population will be screened for blood-borne and general illnesses and provided medical assistance where required. In many cases, these illnesses would have gone unnoticed, so the addition of these ambulances is expected to have a direct effect in combating the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other major diseases.

This “upstream” detection and management of disease and illness is likely to relieve significant pressure caused by “downstream” treatment of these issues at a later date once further complications and spread of the diseases has set in. This is exemplified well by the treatment of patients with diabetes – detected early, it can be a manageable problem, but left undetected, it can consume considerable treatment resources and cause severe suffering.

For those who might otherwise be left to assist such patients, a considerable burden is also lifted. A young person who might otherwise spend considerable time assisting an older person suffering from untreated diseases can instead devote that time to education, vocational training or work that helps
develop their community. Similarly, the screening process has the potential to prevent incapacitation of young people during vital developmental years.

The healthy donated blood itself will also bring benefits of lasting consequence – the collected supplies will serve the urgent need of blood during Caesarean births and other complicated deliveries, helping reduce the rates of maternal and infant mortality.

Something for which District 9800 should feel proud to have contributed significantly to through the Rotary Foundation. The Rotary Foundation Areas of Focus

    Peace and conflict prevention/resolution
    Disease prevention and treatment
    Water and sanitation
    Maternal and child health
    Basic education and literacy
    Economic and community development.

Editor's footnote about Rotary District 9800
Rotary District 9800 covers part of the Melbourne Metropolitan area, stretching into the north-west to include Bendigo, and reaching as far north as Echuca on the Murray. It is approximately 250km north to south and approximately 120km west to east at its widest point. It has 70 Clubs and approx 2,700 members.