Posted by Xavier Sentamu on Dec 01, 2019
December is an exciting time of the year as we prepare for the festive season. In Rotary it is the month that we commemorate one of our key focus areas: disease prevention and treatment. Initially this coincidence struck me as ironical until I began to draw some correlations. The festive season involves gifting to family members, friends and colleagues and I am certain many of us are already feeling the pressure. But there are gifts and then there are gifts. Good health is one of the latter. Infact it is one of those gifts that keep on giving! So, what a privilege it is for us as Rotarians to focus on this priceless gift during the month of December!
Because of technological advancement and the information age, many ailments are now treatable and even preventable. And yet in our part of the world, people and particularly children in our rural communities continue to die from the simplest of causes. While some of these unfortunate deaths are attributed to ignorance, many have resulted from lack of access to basic services and the exorbitant costs of medical care. Last week, I linked up with our partners in the Rotary-USAID WASH Programme to commemorate the World Toilet Day in Jinja. Did you know that close to 200,000 children under the age of five die each year in Uganda, mostly due to malaria, pneumonia and diarrheal diseases? And this is largely due to poor sanitation and waste disposal methods.
 
Over the last two decades, Rotarians in Tanzania and Uganda have made significant investments in the health sector. Today we boast of state of the art Cancer treatment centres at Nsambya and Muhimbili hospitals as well as the Blood Bank at Mengo Hospital. But these are only a fraction of the health centres and hospitals that have been constructed, rehabilitated and equipped by Rotary clubs in our district. We have also conducted numerous health camps for communities across our district; and these efforts are collectively contributing to better health care for our people. Even then, the cost of delivering and accessing these services remains high.
 
And so during this month, I would like to urge all Rotary Clubs to give more attention to the more cost effective option – Disease Prevention. I am requesting you to engage your communities more actively on better health seeking behavior to prevent disease. For example in addition to immunization against polio and other child killer diseases that are a regular feature of our Rotary Family Health Days – let us step up health education campaigns. Let us promote simple things like boiling drinking water and hand washing in our WASH projects. Let us take advantage of initiatives such as the Rotarian Malaria Partners programmes to promote the universal usage of mosquito nets.
 
But as they say, you can’t give what you don’t have. We are entering a season of indulgence, when the risk of non-communicable diseases rises significantly. So again, I would like to encourage you to enjoy the festive season mindfully and to include in your 2020 resolutions, life style modifications that will ensure that you are fit and healthy enough to continue serving your community through Rotary.
 
Like myself, I hope you will use this season to spend some quality time with your families. Rotary activities often take up a lot of our time. But we must remember that there is no Rotary without the family. Our family members should not be made to feel like we are replacing them with Rotary. Rather, let them know that we are adding Rotary to the family to create a happier and more inclusive world.
 
Brenda, the girls and I, wish you all a Merry Christmas and happy holidays.
 
F X Sentamu
District Governor 2019 - 20
Rotary International District 9211