Fellowship of Doctors
In the upcoming years, the WASH Rotary Action Group are encouraging clubs and districts to focus on improving the situation of WASH in Health Care Facilities.
Recently, members of the WASH Rotary Action Group met with the International Fellowship of Rotarian Doctors.
Improving WASH in Healthcare Facilities
The first joint meeting of the core committee of the WASH Rotary Action Group and the International Fellowship of Rotarian Doctors (IFRD) and Allied Healthcare Professionals was held on August 15, 2020 virtually.
Dr John Philip, Chairman of IFRD and Dr Ron Denham, Chairman Emeritus of the WASH Rotary Action Group led the discussions. John expressed the hope that there will be a concerted effort to improve the provision of clean water in health care facilities and to increase standards of hygiene. He added: “The time has come for us to come out of our silos, to be joined up.”
Ron said that the goal of the WASH Rotary Action Group is to provide sustainable access to water, sanitation, and hygiene. This is achieved through Rotary clubs and includes technical and funding support to them and help in identifying donors. Ron pointed out that “The need for and challenge of providing adequate WASH in Health Care Facilities to millions of people could be the next program to mark Rotary’s humanitarian impact indelibly on this planet. The WASH Rotary Action Group could be the trigger, the inspiration.”

Poor WASH services, unclean sanitation and poor hygiene have been quoted as reasons for people not wanting to go to a health-care facility. Women prefer to give birth at home where there is often added risk of infection.

Ron said that the WASH Rotary Action Group is working on a report with the WHO and UNICEF on WASH in Healthcare Facilities. This is a challenge and opportunity for Rotary clubs, Rotaractors, and Rotary Community Corps, who are well-placed to lead, and /or support any WASH in HCF initiative at the local level.

The WASH Rotary Action Group’s Ambassadors across many districts and its professional resources could lead the transformation in Rotary needed to address this new humanitarian challenge.

IFRD has members who are frontline workers in 60 countries and WASHRAG’s network is equally impressive. Together, they can be a powerful force to do good.

A vigorous discussion followed, with special emphasis on WASH in HCF during the COVID-19 crisis.

Some participants pointed out that inadequate water supply and poor hygiene are symptoms of systemic failures interconnected with factors such as poverty and lack of electricity among other issues. Pat Merryweather-Arges gave useful inputs on the need for various authorities, local and national to give advice on COVID-19 that is consistent so as to not cause confusion.

Rotarian S.N. Srikanth then gave a presentation on ‘Social Marketing to influence behaviours during the COVID-19 crisis”. Srikanth has considerable experience in social marketing (not to be confused with social media marketing), having worked on behaviour change projects in the areas of eye donation, sanitation and now COVID-19.

Social Marketing uses the principles of commercial marketing and behaviour change theory to actually change people’s behaviour for their own good and for the community at large.

Applying these principles to COVID-19, Srikanth laid out a plan of action to promote “social vaccination” i.e. behaviours such as social distancing, washing hands, and wearing masks. He also emphasized the need for Governments to invest in these areas, to develop better and more comfortable masks, for example, and not only in treatments and vaccines.

The meeting ended with the WASH Rotarian Action Group and IFRD agreeing to meet again soon and begin an active collaboration.