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




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




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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Vaccine Project Launch in the Pacific



TP+ Rotary partner with UNICEF to launch vaccine project in the Pacific

Rotary launched their centennial projects at Government House, announcing a Pacific immunisation programme in partnership with UNICEF. The programme will reach 100,000 children with three vaccines in the Pacific.


Originally reported in TP+

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ADB Assistance in the Pacific



ADB Assistance to Help Prevent Cervical Cancer, Other Infectious Diseases in Pacific

The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Board of Directors has approved a total financing package of $29.7 million to support the introduction of new vaccines in Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu through the System Strengthening for Effective Coverage of New Vaccines in the Pacific Project. Over 580,000 people across the four countries will benefit from the project, which will improve overall immunization coverage rates and support greater efficiency of primary health services.


Read the full article here

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