Rotary International District 1150
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THE ROTARY DOCTOR BANK OF GREAT BRITAIN & IRELAND
For additional information please contact†
Hon Chairman Rtn Dr Arthur Knight firstname.lastname@example.org
†Saves Lives -††in Developing Countries†
Built upon the Rotary ideals of a non-political, non-sectarian service by providing health care to people in need the Rotary Doctor Bank in Great Britain and Ireland provides medical and other health care to work in developing countries. †Most of our work is in the African countries of Malawi and Uganda but we have supported assignments in places like Nepal and Kiribati (formally the Ellice Islands).
The Rotary Doctor Bank maintains an active register of volunteers whose skills are matched with the requirements of mission hospitals and clinics.† We then assist the volunteer with documentation and making necessary arrangements for travel.† If the volunteer is a Rotarian, the Doctor Bank can assist applications for Voluntary Service Grants from the Rotary Foundation. †There are no age limits but all volunteers are required to be clinically competent, and fit enough to work in the hot and often challenging environments in the countries to which they are assigned. †A typical assignment will be for four to eight weeks but occasionally are shorter.
The health problems encountered are characterised by high child mortality with 15% dying before their fifth birthday and many deaths due to easily cured but untreated diseases.† Describing his work one surgeon, who has worked in Malawi for more than 20 years, reported that 'decline in health is attributable to decreasing government budget allowances and the increasing incidence of AIDS, TB, Malaria, dysentery and cholera.† Chronic malnutrition of an ever increasing population is made worse by Maise shortage caused by drought and flood.† Shortage of health staff is frequently caused by AIDS deaths and low morale due to poor salaries or the attraction of better conditions and higher salaries offered by the developed world'.
There are appalling problems created by the lack of an effective infrastructure.† In many places people do not have access to the services which underpin the maintenance and improvement of health such as uncontaminated water supplies, hygienic sanitation, food to meet basic dietary needs and adequate housing.† There are few hospitals to treat the sick and those that exist are poorly staffed, using outdated and equipment that is badly maintained if at all and with poor training resources.† A Volunteer radiologist reported 'the radiographer here is desperate to improve his radiography but I can honestly say that I have never seen equipment so old and still working.† It was manufactured in 1954 and why X-rays still come out of the tube is beyond me and how he produces such reasonable films is almost a mystery'.†
Often our volunteers offer the only skilled healthcare, especially our surgeons who may be the only person operating locally.† The alternative for a sick person may be a walk of several days to a government hospital.† The work can be extremely varied as reported by one surgeon 'I did neurosurgery, chest and abdominal surgery as well as orthopaedics and there is plenty to do particularly trauma'.†
Our volunteers are involved with treating illnesses we take for granted in the UK. †Because many people are malnourished they are vulnerable to disease, TB is on the increase, Malaria is ever present and children in particular are easy targets for killer diseases, which are often easily cured or alleviated if proper medical attention is provided.
Our aim is to improve the care to people in remote areas of Africa.†
All of our volunteers are actively involved in teaching hospital staff in the hospitals where they work.† One Doctor wrote in his post assignment report 'in addition to the medical work I found myself running continuing medical education sessions and teaching three African medical students.'
All of our volunteers report great personal gains from their assignments, with a new range of experiences in different cultures and challenging environments. †This is a stimulating and rewarding avenue of service for doctors who want to put something extra into the exercise of their skills and experience and an opportunity to contribute to making solid international links which will last the test of time.
Typically, the Doctor Banks strives to support 20 volunteers annually but our work is limited by the resources available to us as there are many requests for assistance that we cannot meet.† Typically, it costs £1,800 of each assignment. †About a third of volunteers are in receipt of grants from Rotary Foundation, the others being sponsored directly by the Doctor Bank using the funds donated by Clubs in RIBI and from other sources.† In total, this amounts to around 130 weeks of service abroad each year.
We are always on the lookout for help. Typically this would be in the form of a donation supporting our volunteers in their selfless service to the sick of some of the poorest communities in the world.† Increasingly Rotary Clubs are sponsoring a volunteer assignment, recommending volunteers or raising much needed cash to purchase equipment.