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April-May 2021 | Opinion

Tony Black – Rotary International Director’s Column

Tony Black – Rotary International Director’s Column

Rotary International Direcor, Tony Black, discuss the Rotary International COVID-19 taskforce, and how they are supporting pandemic relief.

At the January Rotary International (RI) Board meeting, it was unanimously agreed the RI Convention scheduled for June in Taipei would take place virtually.

This decision has disappointed many Rotarians, but the health of the attendees was uppermost in our minds.

Look out for information on the virtual convention.

So what is Rotary doing to get the COVID-19 vaccinations to people around the world?

An RI COVID-19 task force is looking at how we can support pandemic relief efforts. There is a need for global co-operation between citizens and governments, building on our experience in combating the polio virus.

A comprehensive communications strategy has been developed to help inform and inspire clubs, members, and participants to take action in their communities in appropriate ways as vaccination efforts progress around the world.

To add focus to this effort, and to clearly communicate about Rotary’s support for regional and local COVID-19 vaccination efforts, five key categories have been identified as areas in which clubs and members can play an important role:

  1. Community education – sharing information from health departments and supporting their efforts.
  2. Equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  3. Combatting misinformation by sharing accurate and fact-based information in a regionally appropriate way.
  4. Prevention of COVID-19 by continuing to engage in projects supporting mask-wearing, social distancing, project hygiene practices, donations of personal protective equipment.
  5. Encouraging preparedness to receive the vaccine (e.g. advocacy efforts to ensure governments will have their preparedness plans in place).

Rotary has produced a range of resources to guide Rotarians which can be found at rotary.org

An opportunity for collaboration with UNICEF is under discussion, which would highlight how polio eradication is proof that vaccines work, and how the lessons learned can be applied to the COVID-19 crisis.

This effort would include joint advocacy efforts, co-operating on communications efforts, alignment on messaging, and arranging opportunities for collaboration at the local level in regions identified as priority markets by both Rotary and UNICEF.

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