An estimated 5.9 million children under the age of five die each year because of malnutrition, inadequate health care, and poor sanitation — all of which can be prevented. Women in the 20th century have achieved significant progress in the economically progressive areas of the world, but women and girls in non-developed countries have a much more difficult life and must accept their inferior social status and tend to fall into traditional roles. In April, Rotary worldwide recognizes this all so important bond of maternal and child health as one of our six areas of focus.
Young women in non-developed countries often have to share small, cramped, inadequate shelter with their extended families, controlled by customs and values of their parents and their grandparents. They are often married off before age 18, some under 13, not only depriving them of the opportunity for education, but resulting in the number of pregnancy-related complications for girls not physiologically ready to bare children. Rotary aims to reduce 30% of maternal deaths through family planning and ultimately empower women for their sakes and the benefit of their communities.
New mothers in Tepehua, Chapala, Mexico have to travel more than an hour by public bus to Guadalajara for immediate pre- and post-natal care. After only one overnight stay they are all returned by bus with their babies to their village, with its poor conditions which threaten the health of both mother and child. Thanks to the Rotary Club of Richmond Sunrise and The Rotary Foundation a new maternal health building, constructed by a local business on the grounds of the community centre, has fitted out the building and provided equipment and supplies.
To save children born with congenital heart defects in rural areas of China the Rotary Club of Richmond Sunrise has also partnered with clubs in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Switzerland, with a global grant from The Rotary Foundation, to provide heart surgeries to children of poor families.
These are just two examples of the worldwide outreach and generous support of clubs in our District for those mothers and children in need.
Rotary provides education, immunizations, birth kits, and mobile health clinics. Women are taught how to prevent mother-to-infant HIV transmission, breast-feed, and protect themselves and their children from disease. Rotary programs improve women’s access to skilled health personnel, distribute clean birth kits, teach mothers how to breast-feed, promote immunizations and regular checkups, and distribute insecticide-treated bed nets. Thanks to you in District 5040, our clubs around the world and The Rotary Foundation we help mothers and children in need so they can take control of their own maternal and infant health care and their lives.