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Cape Reinga to Bluff for RGECAF

Alan White joined the Rotary club of Greenmeadows in the Hawkes Bay (District 9930) just before New Zealand’s COVID lockdown in early 2019. Months later he was cycling the length of New Zealand to raise funds for Rotary Give Every Child A Future (RGECAF) and increase awareness of the Rotary Australasia Centenary.

RGECAF: Alan how long have you been cycling?

Alan: I have always been a runner but the idea of cycling began in 2005 and a conversation at a conference dinner with a guy who had cycled across America. That appealed to me but it was not until early 2009 that I actually started cycling. My partner Liz and I cycled the Otago Rail Trail and we loved it! Liz then suggested we train for the November Taupo Cycle Challenge (160km round Lake Taupo). Multiple international cycle challenges followed.

RGECAF: And cycling for a Rotary project. How did that begin?

Alan: I finally did the Trans-Am in November 2019. Now retired, I was thinking how I could to give back to the community. I met a local Rotarian who suggested Rotary, and Liz, who had been a Rotarian overseas in the past, thought it would be a good fit for me. I joined the RC Greenmeadows in February 2020 but only managed a few meetings before the COVID lockdown. I emerged with cabin-fever and ready for another big bike-ride. My previous ‘giving’ had always been to New Zealand charities but our District Governor Grant Spackman was promoting RGECAF, his chosen project for the year, at his club visit. This inspired me to think ‘like a Rotarian’ and about the needs beyond our borders. I approached our club executives to suggest a bike ride fund-raiser and they responded very enthusiastically. I wanted to include the Hawkes Bay Cancer Society as a co-recipient of funds as this is a charity close to my heart after losing my wife Jan to cancer in 2004. The bike ride ticked multiple boxes for me; raising awareness of the Rotary Australasia Centenary and supporting local and international needs. In addition, RGECAF is a vaccination project. The importance of vaccines to save lives is more relevant today than ever before.

RGECAF: 3000km over 44 days. How was it and how did it feel to finish?

Alan: I had never cycled for charity before which added to the responsibility of completing the challenge. So, relief. Relief and satisfaction. I cycled for 35 of the 44 days with a prolonged stop in Hamilton for bike repairs, and two rest days. The ride was solo and daily distances varied with the terrain, but I averaged 88km/day.

RGECAF: An amazing achievement, especially for someone in their 70’s. On behalf of the children in the Pacific, and Rotary Give Every Child A Future, Thank You Alan.

 

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RGECAF on Rotary Voices blog

I am part of a team of Rotarians that came together nearly four years ago to initiate a project to recognize and celebrate the Centenary in Australia and New Zealand in 2021. It started as a group from the original four clubs in this part of the world – Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland, and Wellington. Since then, many other clubs and districts have participated and are providing support. We called the project Give Every Child A Future because importantly, it will reduce child mortality and ease the burden of cervical cancer, thus giving every child a better future.

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Newsletter March 2021

Welcome to our first quarterly newsletter. After many years of planning, Rotary Give Every Child A Future vaccines have arrived in the Pacific, storage equipment has been distributed and health workers training us underway.

To find out more please click here.

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UNICEF Update February 2021

As we finally receive vaccines in the Pacific we are delighted to provide a full update from UNICEF.

To download UNICEF’s February 2021 update for Rotary Give Every Child A Future click here

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Chinese New Year Banquet Raises NZ$11,500 for RGECAF

Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally focus on sharing good wishes for health and prosperity in the year ahead. This year a sold-out event was organised by the Rotary Club of Wellington in favour of better health for Pacific children.

Thanks to many generous guests and prize donors, more than $11,500 was raised for Rotary Give Every Child a Future during a superb ten-course Chinese banquet at Dragons Restaurant in Wellington on 21 February, held to mark the beginning of the Year of the Ox.

The event was attended by dignitaries including the Australian High Commissioner (an active supporter of Rotary’s Trans-Tasman Centenary), Rotarians from Wellington and further afield, and many friends and family members. Fundraising came from ticket sales, raffles and an auction. A particularly sought-after item was afternoon tea with the Club’s honorary member, Hon Grant Robertson, Minister of Finance.

Well-known epidemiologist, Professor Michael Baker of Otago University in Wellington, was the guest speaker. His speech reinforced the importance of immunisation as a regular, ongoing public health service. He strongly endorsed RGECAF’s focus on ridding Pacific countries of deadly but preventable childhood diseases along with protecting girls against the cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV). Professor Baker outlined the evolution of the COVID-19 virus from early 2020, the variable responses internationally and the effectiveness of New Zealand’s choice to try to eliminate rather than manage the virus’ spread.

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Rotary Give Every Child A Future rolls out

All Rotarians ‘down under’ should now be familiar with Rotary Give Every Child A Future (RGECAF). It is the one Centenary project that spans the whole zone and the aim is to involve every Rotarian, every Rotary club and every Rotary district in saving lives in the Pacific. Rotary Give Every Child A Future, through our partner UNICEF, will vaccinate 100,000 children across nine Pacific Islands over three years.
In this article the project team give an update on where RGECAF is as of March 2021.
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Celebrating a 100 years of service

 

launch

 

During the one-hour event, the Governor-General and Mrs Hurley took part in the ‘Passing the Baton’ ceremony and the audience enjoyed musical performances by Josh Piterman, Nick Jones and Leo Sayer.

To celebrate 100 years of Rotary in Australia and New Zealand, Rotary is reflecting and celebrating the past, but more importantly looking into the future, with many new projects that deliver real, long-term solutions to the world’s most persistent issues.

 

Continue reading at Rotary Downunder.

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Rotary grants provide a major boost

 

UNICEF

 

The Rotary Give Every Child A Future project to introduce three vaccines into nine Pacific Island countries, reached a significant milestone this month (March 2020) with the approval of NINE Global Grants by The Rotary Foundation. These grants, one for each country for the first year of the project, have a combined value of approximately US$1.3 million.

Global grants are made up of Rotary club fundraising and Rotary District Designated Funds which are matched by The Rotary Foundation’s World Fund by a minimum of $15,000 and maximum of $400,000.

This means RGECAF can now move to the implementation phase of this major public health initiative in the Pacific. Through our collaboration with UNICEF 100,000 women and children will benefit individually. Saving lives and saving families. In addition, the project will significantly strengthen health systems in each of the nine countries providing a legacy of improved healthcare.

RGECAF was launched by Rotary Australasia to celebrate 100 years, in 2021, of Rotary International in the region. For three years Rotary will fund rotavirus, pneumococcal and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines for Pacific Island children in Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, and support vaccine programme delivery in these countries plus Kiribati, the Cook Islands, Tokelau, Niue and Nauru.

Implementing new vaccines into a country’s immunisation programme is very expensive. This is the phase RGECAF is supporting. With commitments from governments to continue the funding these vaccine after three years, this project will see children protected from life-threatening diseases, and families protected from loss of the mother to cervical cancer, for generations to come.

These grants are a huge boost to the project, but RGECAFs success remains dependent on continued fund-raising over the next 2-3 years.

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Measles in Samoa, our response

 

Measle in Samoa

 

In July 2018, two babies died in Samoa very soon after receiving their measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine. The Samoan national MMR vaccine programme was subsequently suspended for months while investigation into the cause of the babies deaths was carried out. This was proven to be a result of human error as the nurses mixed the MMR vaccine powder with a muscle relaxant instead of the required sterile water.

Understandably these events shattered parental confidence in the MMR vaccine programme and even when the programme was reinstated many parents declined the MMR vaccine for their children. MMR immunisation coverage dropped to around 31-32%. An immunisation rate of 95% is required to ensure the viruses cannot spread, even if someone brings one of them into a community.

Measles is one of our most infectious diseases and will spread rapidly if introduced into an unvaccinated population. While many perceive it as a minor ‘childhood illness’, as the Samoan crisis has demonstrated, it can be very serious and for some even fatal. Pneumonia is a common cause of these measles deaths and the complications that affect others.

Samoa has a population of about 200,000 and as of mid-December 2019 there were approximately 5,000 measles cases and 72 measles deaths, mainly in children under 5 years old.

Approximately 93% of the population had received MMR vaccine as a result of the mass vaccination programme.

 

Rotary Give Every Child A Future Response

Rotary Give Every Child A Future (RGECAF), Rotary Australasia’s Centenary project, was developed in consultation with UNICEF to fill identified gaps in immunisation services in the Pacific. It aims to deliver three vaccines across nine Pacific countries, including Samoa, to 100,000 children. Babies will be vaccinated against rotavirus and pneumococcal disease, both significant causes of deaths or disability in very young children, and pre-teen girls against the human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer.

UNICEF’s advice was based on the statistics as they stood two or three years ago, when the MMR immunisation rates were believed to be at high levels in the countries concerned. These countries have public health programmes in place to administer MMR vaccines across their populations.

In the last few months, we have seen the tragic outcome of a failure in Samoa to address the decline in their MMR immunisation rates. Thankfully, this is now being reversed through a massive effort to vaccinate the whole population. We expect that this terrible and widely-publicised public health disaster will ensure MMR vaccination rates remain a high priority for all Pacific health authorities from now on, allowing Rotary to remain focused on the original three vaccines of the RGECAF programme.

A positive consequence for RGECAF of the Samoan measles outbreak is that it has reinforced the crucial role vaccines play in saving children’s lives and the importance of maintaining high immunisation rates to protect populations. Rotary and UNICEF hope to be able to build on this positivity when the RGECAF vaccination programme is rolled out in 2020.

In addition, RGECAF will not only provide the three project vaccines but will deliver staff training and improved vaccine storage capacity across the nine Pacific island countries. This will further strengthen their immunisation services and make the delivery of all vaccines, including MMR, even more reliable and safe.

 

Photo: Wanda holds her six-month-old son Azamat, as he receives a measles vaccination in Leauvaa Village (courtesy of UNICEF).

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Rotary & UNICEF team up to vaccinate the Pacific

 

 

An immunisation programme to reach 100,000 children in nine Pacific countries was launched in Wellington last week.

The “Give Every Child a Future” project is the major international focus of civil society group Rotary as it celebrates 100 years of service in New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific.

Rotary will partner with the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF to support the introduction of three vaccines in the region…

 

Read the full article at RNZ

 

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