First woman president of Rotary International, Jennifer Jones is a passionate advocate of diversity, equity and inclusion. She takes on the presidential role on July 1.

Photo credit: Rotary International

Read on for some great insights on her vision and plan and how Jones thinks RFHA’s work fits into the current RI theme ‘Imagine Rotary’. 

Q. Reflecting on the 2022-23 presidential theme, Imagine Rotary, how do you imagine RFHA achieving its dream of a healthy world for all?

A. When I call on us to Imagine Rotary, a big part of that is making it better known to the Rotary world and the world at large the great work we are already doing. RFHA has already had a huge success in reaching out to the community areas in Africa and India, where people had little or no access to healthcare services, and we need to celebrate this. The better known our good work becomes, the more possible it becomes to achieve even more – involving more partners in our efforts, identifying more communities in need, finding more opportunities to monitor the outcomes of our work, and empowering and educating more local women on health care issues. 

Q. In your opinion, what should the top three objectives for RFHA be in order to achieve the goal of an AIDS-free world and bringing community health services to all?

A. Let me first say that these are tremendous and ambitious goals and another good example of how the Rotary world and the world at large needs to know more of the good work we are doing. How many Rotary members are even aware of these goals? How we achieve these goals is something RFHA knows better than I do, but here are a few thoughts I have:

1. Commitment, leadership and involvement in healthcare services

Everyone involved with RFHA must take charge and identify ways to increase the impact of RFHA’s work and reach. This commitment needs to be visible and championed.

2. Consultations with healthcare professionals, volunteers and beneficiaries

RFHA should focus on consulting and involving women and men from different population groups when creating a list of health issues they want to target – which, by the way, aligns perfectly with our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion goals. With this participation, services can be more responsive to the actual experiences of people from all communities.

3. Running awareness programs

Raising awareness is the critical step before RFHA reaches out to people with its services. Sensitizing people will also gradually help in changing behaviour and practices that have a negative impact on health. Promoting health and well-being will help achieve improved responses from people, which will enable RFHA to reach out easily to them with its services. 

An integrated health care approach will assist greatly to educate people around the stigma that continues to surround those suffering with disease.

Q. Why do you think health is so important to focus on to help build a better world?

A. Global health issues do not abide by borders, as we’ve seen in the current pandemic. 

It is very important for healthcare leaders to identify the challenges and opportunities in the area of health where they can help. An organization like RFHA serves a major role in addressing the global health issues and making them a priority. 

A sad reality is that underserved sections of society are usually the worst affected in any global health crisis. The pandemic has highlighted the weak primary healthcare across the globe, especially in the developing nations where there is already a huge burden of infectious disease. Healthcare delivery in the low-resource setting is urgently needed, and RFHA is playing a major role in reaching out and making an impact in areas that need it most.

A healthy society is a sign of progress. Sustainable access to healthcare is the need of the hour and the fragmented and unequal healthcare system needs to vanish. RFHA can help achieve that by ensuring affordable and high-quality access to healthcare by all. 

Q. With its free community healthcare services, how do you think RFHA holds the power of making a difference in this world?

A. RFHA is making a tremendous difference in the world, fully focused on providing quality healthcare to all. Since 2011, more than 2.6 million women, men, and children have received free health services through your work. That’s an amazing accomplishment.

There’s so much to celebrate – your signature program, Rotary Family Health Days is an amazing program that now encompasses 11 countries. Important partnerships are growing out of your Strategic Alliance Countries, and you have a goal of global scale for this work. 

Today, health improvement is the key principle to lead a recovery away from regressive policies and practices that harm the most vulnerable. Half the world population still don’t receive the health services they need. Hence, we need an organization like RFHA to drive that change and help us all build a happy, healthy world.

Q. How impactful do you think the Rotary Action Groups are and how are they contributing towards achieving the Rotary dream? 

A. Rotary Action Groups contribute towards achieving the Rotary dream in so many ways. They globally unite more than 34,000 people across 150+ countries who have expertise and passion in particular areas like education, mental health, environment, or economic development. They use their knowledge, passion, and global network to help clubs and districts plan and implement impactful projects. By bringing expertise, partners, and funding resources to projects, they help clubs scale up smaller projects to larger, more sustainable initiatives. During the 2020-21 Rotary year alone, Action Groups supported more than 2400 projects. 

Action Groups offer our members opportunities to make personal and professional connections. They offer Rotarians, Rotaractors, and Peace Fellows leadership opportunities. 

Nearly 300 people from around the world serve in leadership roles in Action Groups. Action Groups also have high levels of women participation. Research shows that Action Groups have more women participants than men. One in three Action Groups are chaired by a woman. 

Action Groups also help grow Rotary. A significant number of new members join Rotary after being involved in an Action Group. This truly showcases that when we provide meaningful opportunities to engage in service, we are able to create lasting change within our communities, within our world and within ourselves. And that in turn, helps to foster our collective ability to not only “do good in the world” but to actively create a footprint for peace. 


Watch this video to understand the impact RFHDs have been making:


Interested in joining the RFHA team or participating in a Global Grant supporting Rotary Family Health Days?

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