Executive Director of RFPD Melisa Willis was talking with RFPD Medical Director Dr. Himansu Basu about the forthcoming events celebrating RFPDs 20 years of life

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Melissa – Dr. Himansu, how are you planning to celebrate the 20th anniversary?

Himansu- Rotary has two core values – Fellowship and Service – for RFPD’s 20th anniversary, we are celebrating both. Fellowship is with 15000+ Rotarians and non- Rotarians who are members of our organisation. Service through our highly acclaimed maternal mortality reduction programme in Nigeria, our ground-breaking community mobilisation programme through Saheli Centres in India, are to name a few. Of course, we are well recognised for our family spacing programmes in many countries.

M- What about joined up partnership programmes?

H- We do not rest on our laurels - we have partnered with a number of global organisations and Government to implement Calmed (Collaborative Actin in Lowering of Maternity Encountered Deaths) pilot programme in India. This is a Rotary programme supported by the Rotary Foundation whose centenary we are also celebrating this year.

M- Looking to the future, what is in your personal wish list for the next 20 years?

H- As Medical Director of RFPD, I have many wishes- would like to mention three, Firstly, scaling up of Calmed programme for maternal mortality reduction in low resource settings, especially in Africa and South East Asia. This follows our great success in the two pilot programmes implemented in Sikkim and Gujarat in India.

M- What is your second wish?

H- I would like to see enhanced role of RFPD acting as a practical resource and support for Rotarians contemplating programmes in the MCH area of focus. RFPD can advise and guide Rotarians during planning, preparation, and implementation and follow up stages of Global Grant or VTT programmes in this area of focus. A country specific cadre of experienced RFPD advisers is being established, to enhance our efforts in assisting Rotarians contemplating MCH programmes, in their locality.

M- And the third?

H- Boost the numbers of professional volunteers (doctors, nurses, and midwives) as members of RFPD (new and existing), prepared to offer their skills for Rotary programmes through vocational training teams and advocacy roles in the maternal and child health area of focus. A welcome change by the RI Board in 2016 allows family members, programme participants and alumni to join RFPD, even if they are not Rotarians. An up to date database of members with professional skills in this area should be maintained. This should act as a resource for RFPD supporting programmes in MCH.

M- What is behind your remarkable enthusiasm for the Calmed programme?

H. It is a high-quality Rotary programme, resourced with Rotary Foundation Grants, supported by hands on efforts of Rotarians and strengthened by Rotary partnership with several international collaborators, it is an evidence based strategic programme – we have been able to implement this effectively in the target areas, with the help of our collaborators. Training and retraining have been fully authenticated by scoring of knowledge and skills testing. Last but not the list, we have been recognised for this work with two international awards for excellence – Times Sternberg award 2016 and Rotary GBI Champion of Change award 2016.

M. Please can you explain the details of the Calmed VTT programme?

H- Vocational training team consisting of senior obstetricians (5 to 7) travel to programme sites and provide training in emergency care of pregnant women and new born as follows
a. train a group of local trainers (20 to 25) to master trainer level
b. train basic trainees (30 to 40) – doctors and nurses at the grass roots level at a time – the programme is repeated many times, by the master trainers
c. Train ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activists) trainers and ASHAS in raising community awareness of pregnancy and birth related issues.
Repeat training visits are undertaken over a 3-year period to increase in the number of health professionals to ensure that all pregnant women have access to trained health care workers, especially in emergencies.

M- How does one organise a Calmed VTT programme through a Rotary Foundation Global Grant?

H- Although VTT is a visible component, Global Grant in MCH area of focus is the important issue. For Global Grant, the process starts with identifying community needs, identifying a solution based on the Calmed template that has measurable impact which is sustainable, organising resources needed, identifying funding from Districts and Clubs. These preliminaries will generally require extensive discussion and a visit to the programme site. The VTT leader is identified, programme details worked out, potential VTT members are identified and interviewed. This is followed by on line application.

M- What help can be given by RFPD?

H- You are more qualified than I am in answering this question. I believe Rotary International’s trust in identifying RFPD as a resource for programmes in MCH is fully justified. As I have said we are prepared to assist Rotarians in planning, preparing and implementation of maternal and child health related programmes.

M- What help can be given by your personal efforts?

H- All the above. Additionally, I have access to other resources through my membership of Rotary Foundation Cadre Adviser on Maternal and Child Health, and Global Networking Committee of Rotary International – please let me know if I can be of help – drhbasumd@gmail.com

M- Thank you Himansu

H- It was a pleasure -thank you for the opportunity.

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