This meeting program encourages every Rotarian to use our concerns about coronavirus and relate them to Rotary’s March theme: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Month.
Washing hands and good hygiene practices have not been thrust into the American public square to this degree in memory.
Let’s use that in considering afresh what these issues and needs mean to the people in less developed nations and remember that not everyone else has it as good as we do, and they still need our help.


PRESIDING TODAY IS: Ken Jaskot, Member

bellDing! We’re now in session.

Welcome all – visitors, fellow Rotarians and guests alike to this E-Club program!

Remember the Four-Way Test!

At the beginning of each meeting we remind ourselves of the The Four-Way Test.  Therefore, please remember to ask yourself always . . .

Of the things we think, say or do:


  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?


Reflective Moments

“Sadly, for the theory that crises are opportunities in disguise, the changes that may be coming won’t always be benign or within our control. A major coronavirus pandemic may mean social consequences we never foresaw and painful shifts away from economic models on which many jobs depend – on top of the deaths and suffering the virus itself will bring.”
                       – Gaby Hinsliff, The Guardian news columnist
“What is it that is scaring people? I think deep in our psyche, there is this fear about viruses and things we don't see because the human species has been attacked by viruses and bacteria for all of known history. So people are inclined to worry about it.”
                       – Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD, The Dr. Oz Show
“We cannot say this loudly enough or clearly enough or often enough: All countries can still change the course of this pandemic. Some countries are struggling with a lack of capacity. Some countries are struggling with a lack of resources. Some countries are struggling with a lack of resolve.”
                       – Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General

Leadership Quotes

“During March, Rotary Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Month, we’re celebrating our commitment to create healthier communities by supplying clean water and sanitation facilities to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

There are 2.5 billion people in the world that lack access to improved sanitation and 748 million people that don’t have clean drinking water. Nearly 1400 children die each day from diseases caused by the lack of sanitation and safe water.
When people have access to clean water, they live healthier and more productive lives.”
          -- Azka Asif, Rotary Programs Staff,
              Rotary Service in Action Blog






March is Rotary Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Month

This year, due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), all of us Rotarians in the more developed world have been given cause to perhaps think more deeply about disease in our communities then we normally do.
Here in the United States, we mostly hear about epidemics in foreign lands, with occasional small forays on our shores. I don’t remember any health issue that reached this deeply into the minds and fears of so many homes since the polio epidemics of my childhood in the 1950s. It is certainly arguable that an aggressive media industry has created more concern than the situation has so far warranted, at least here in the United States, but there is little doubt that few of us will soon forget our fears.
While the coronavirus has not been as harsh here as in some countries, it still has served as a wake-up call about our interdependence with each other in this globalized world; how one traveler from a distant country can begin a chain that can multiply certain disorders.
One point of consideration for all Rotarians is the other virus we know well, Polio. Fortunately, it is not airborne, but travels in fecal-contaminated water. But it also may be carried by someone without apparent symptoms, and passed on to another who becomes afflicted. These viruses require a human host to survive over time; the wild virus by itself will eventually die. The chain of life for both is generally the same: find a human host who will spread its progeny and keep it alive.
This is why we need to stay resolved in our PolioPlus effort until there has been no new cases for three years worldwide, assuring us that, in fact, the virus has died out. As our world becomes smaller and as the COVID-19 has reminded us, any remaining pocket of the virus has the potential to reignite to cripple and kill again.
A second thought is that the additional great legacy of PolioPlus is the medical infrastructure that has been created in this campaign. In less developed countries, many did not have any systematic structure to monitor and defend against the spread of polio or other diseases within their borders. Those same institutions that have led to polio-free nations are now there to assist in the fight against coronavirus, and whatever other such epidemics that will follow, as surely as they will.
Here in the United States, we are generally fortunate when it comes to public health. Certainly, many people are afflicted by problems here in the U.S., but that is offset by a healthcare system that serves most of our needs. As we’ve seen with our coronavirus cases, we are better protected by our health structure than has been the case in other countries. Even developed countries like Italy and South Korea have been taxed by coronavirus for a variety of reasons. And this should also serve as a reminder of how many people live without any adequate safety net in their lives.
For parts of the world’s population, an event like coronavirus is a threat without any recourse. They have nowhere to turn. As we are encouraged to think this month, even the most basic needs of life – clean water, and adequate sanitation are unavailable to too many, let alone do they have a doctor capable of treating a grandparent with life-threatening pneumonia. While the work of Rotarians in addressing health issues for the world’s underprivileged has limits, we need to be reminded that each success plays a part in securing a better future. Every water well we build provides multiple benefits, such as keeping people healthier when other threats arise, making them less vulnerable.
Coronavirus reminds us that healthcare is an intricate support structure, depending on many factors for a successful defense. Some of these are very basic, like just washing our hands. Of course, having a source of enough clean water is the first requirement. But, as Rotary’s WASH projects demonstrate, teaching school children the importance of washing one’s hands frequently is also necessary for communities where such basic hygiene is not common. And the child is encouraged to teach the parents to spread the practice within the family.
The creation of a comprehensive healthcare structure is not easy, even given the many examples of successful systems in a wide variety of economic environments. But there does need to be sufficient wealth and the will to use it in this fashion. The politics of this is daunting. Coronavirus will prove to be a stress test that will generate much thought after it goes the way of all the previous such epidemics. But, thanks to the PolioPlus-inspired infrastructure, many countries have a system in place to quickly apply the lessons learned with greater efficiency than ever before.
And the technology that is emerging over the next few years will also be used to better understand and improve the health needs of all the world, both developed and under-developed. By 2030, the level of healthcare will be dramatically improved. Tracking health issues in near real-time, using AI to review and refine developing treatments, robotic surgeries from across the world via 5G, and using DNA splicing to cure genetic diseases, are just a few of the advances we’ll see. Rotarians will have many new options to provide health improvements where it’s needed.
Coronavirus will be the most thoroughly analyzed epidemic ever. Given the level of case tracking of affected individuals in the advanced healthcare systems, AI will provide insights that will begin to build a better defense against the next epidemic, and the common flu viruses as well. We have the patient histories of thousands of infected people and AI and quantum computing will be able to quickly analyze this database in ways never before possible, finding common threads that helped to mitigate or heighten the impact of the virus, among many other studies. We’ll learn and find medical solutions we don’t even contemplate today.
For Rotarians, this is an exciting time to be people of action. If we pay attention to advances, there will come many opportunities to create and fund projects that will have even more impact than before. That is not to say that digging wells, building latrines, and handwashing stations will be unnecessary any time soon. But new ways of doing these basic projects will emerge, making our impacts even greater. We should not abandon our role in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, but work to use our creative powers to make these “small” yet vital projects more effective.
What is the #1 piece of advice you hear about coronavirus? Wash your hands frequently. This is as true here in the U. S. as it is in the remotest village in Ghana. Recommit yourself to advancing these Rotarian projects!
Your comments and questions are always welcomed!
[Remember: Coronavirus is not the end of the world, just the world we knew. Rotarians look at the world as it is, then figure out how it needs to be improved. That's what it means to be People of Action. (KJ)]


The Mountain State Rotary E-Club (MSRE) is a member club of Rotary International District 7545 (covering most of West Virginia, excluding the Eastern panhandle) and RI Zone 33, which encompasses a large portion of the eastern sector of the United States.
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