Ro­tary In­ter­na­tional hopes for in­creased en­gage­ment with Myan­mar

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS - Evan Erick­son

On his sec­ond visit to Myan­mar, Ro­tary Foun­da­tion Chair Paul Net­zel spoke on Satur­day at the Cha­trium Ho­tel to ex­press his hopes for what the coun­try can ac­com­plish through bet­ter en­gage­ment with Ro­tary In­ter­na­tional, a ser­vice or­gan­i­sa­tion with a mem­ber­ship of 1.2 mil­lion span­ning more than 200 coun­tries.

As the or­gan­i­sa­tion's sec­ond­high­est rank­ing of­fi­cial, Net­zel is con­clud­ing a trip around the world meet­ing with lo­cal clubs from Italy to Hong Kong be­fore ap­pear­ing be­fore

“Just talk­ing with the young peo­ple, what you are do­ing to role­model for them here in Myan­mar, it will build a re­la­tion­ship through­out your great coun­try, and it mo­ti­vates Ro­tar­i­ans in other places,” Net­zel said.

sev­eral dozen mem­bers of the Ro­tary Club of Yangon and Ro­tary Club of Cen­tral Yangon – cur­rently the only char­tered Ro­tary groups ac­tive in Myan­mar.

“Just talk­ing with the young peo­ple, what you are do­ing to role­model for them here in Myan­mar, it will build a re­la­tion­ship through­out your great coun­try, and it mo­ti­vates Ro­tar­i­ans in other places,” Net­zel said.

A pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tion of the group in Myan­mar, known as the Ran­goon Club, was thrown out of the coun­try by the rul­ing mil­i­tary junta in 1977. Fol­low­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with the gov­ern­ment fa­cil­i­tated by long­time-Ro­tar­ian J.T. War­ring – who has been in­volved in Ro­tary-spon­sored wa­ter man­age­ment sys­tems projects in Myan­mar for more than a decade – the Ro­tary Club of Yangon be­came a char­tered mem­ber in 2014.

In ad­di­tion to speak­ing at a Yangon in­ter­na­tional school about get­ting young peo­ple in­volved in Ro­tary's In­ter­act pro­gram, Net­zel had the chance to meet with a deputy to the Min­is­ter of Health on Satur­day morn­ing to speak about chal­lenges fac­ing Myan­mar – specif­i­cally its ef­forts to stay po­lio-free.

Al­though the min­is­ter him­self was un­able to at­tend, Net­zel said the meet­ing was a pro­duc­tive one and hopes to see a na­tional com­mit­tee of Ro­tar­i­ans formed to work ef­fec­tively with the gov­ern­ment on crit­i­cal pub­lic health is­sues.

“This is what's worked suc­cess­fully in other coun­tries, es­pe­cially those that have had real chal­lenges in the erad­i­ca­tion process, to have a na­tional ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee to meet with the health min­istry's of­fi­cials, WHO, UNICEF and so forth,” Net­zel said.

Along­side its ex­ten­sive en­gage­ment in ar­eas like clean drink­ing wa­ter, ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion, hu­man­i­tar­ian grants and mi­cro-fi­nance, the 101-year-old Ro­tary Foun­da­tion has played a piv­otal role in global po­lio erad­i­ca­tion.

With around 1,000 cases of crip­pling po­liovirus in­fec­tion recorded daily in 1988, many saw lit­tle hope for the goal of to­tal erad­i­ca­tion and the un­prece­dented vac­ci­na­tion ef­fort that has grown to be­come the sin­gle largest in­ter­na­tion­ally-co­or­di­nated pub­lic health ini­tia­tive in his­tory.

Cur­rently driven by five core part­ners – Ro­tary In­ter­na­tional, WHO, CDC, UNICEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion – the Global Po­lio Erad­i­ca­tion Ini­tia­tive launched 30 years ago has helped to im­mu­nize more than 2.5 bil­lion chil­dren and has re­sulted in a 99 per­cent drop in the num­ber of in­fec­tions world­wide.

While Myan­mar was de­clared po­lio-free in 2007, the re-emer­gence of a rare strain of the virus in 2011 was a harsh re­minder of the need to be con­stantly vig­i­lant. In his speech, Net­zel noted the ways that ob­sta­cles to mass im­mu­niza­tion in the coun­try as a re­sult of long-run­ning con­flicts make greater co­op­er­a­tion im­per­a­tive.

With Ro­tary In­ter­na­tional's proven track record help­ing to tackle mas­sive pub­lic health is­sues, Net­zel said that he hopes to one day see a net­work of Ro­tary clubs en­gag­ing with com­mu­ni­ties across Myan­mar.

“He learned a lot about what we're do­ing as new clubs, and we also learned from him the greater things we can do in terms of lessons learned from other coun­tries,” RCY pres­i­dent Sy Wann said. “It opened up many new pos­si­bil­i­ties and it gave us a lot more home­work as well.”

When RCY as­sis­tant gov­er­nor Martin Pun had a chance to take the stage, he con­grat­u­lated Net­zel on be­ing a “Ro­tar­ian who at­tended a hun­dred per­cent for 50 con­sec­u­tive years.”

From left to right, Ro­tary Foun­da­tion Chair Paul Net­zel, Ro­tary Club Yangon as­sis­tant gov. Martin Pun and Ro­tary Club Yangon pres­i­dent Sy Wann.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.