Rotarians Against Malaria is a volunteer-run organization working to eliminate malaria. The primary focus of RAM has been the distribution of insecticide-treated nets to vulnerable populations in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and more recently, Timor Leste. RAM has raised more than $2 million to eliminate malaria since 2003. RAM works in conjunction with the Ministry of Health authorities in each country and complements the work of other malaria organisations, most notably the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
RAM was started in the early 1990s from a proposal by Dr Brian Handley of the Rotary Club of Brookvale (District 9680 NSW) who was concerned about the surge in malaria incidence which caused an epidemic, which peaked in 1990, after the discontinuation of DDT-based malaria control programs in the 1970’s. RAM was launched in 1995 in Tulagi, Solomon Islands by the Rotary Club of Honiara and Rotary District 9600. In 1997 Ron Seddon and The Rotary Club of Port Moresby initiated the highly successful Adopt a Village program to encourage Australian Rotary Clubs to fund nets in PNG on a village-by-village basis. The Adopt A Village program was then successfully implemented in the Solomon Islands. In 1998 Rotary Australia World Community Service adopted RAM as an approved multi-district project. In 2005, RAM expanded its support to the National Malaria Control Program in Timor Leste. There are now RAM committees in each of the 21 Rotary districts in Australia, which raise funds to support programs to control and eliminate malaria.
Malaria is not only a significant cause of death in the poorer nations of the world but it is also a significant direct cause of poverty. Chronic malaria leaves sufferers listless, house bound and unable to contribute to productive work to sustain their families and contribute to their communities. In the case of children it interrupts their education and leads to poor concentration even when they are able to attend school. The most vulnerable people are pregnant women and children under the age of five years. Working to control and eliminate malaria is a good fit with Rotary’s ideals and The Rotary Foundation areas of focus.
In Papua New Guinea, RAM funded and distributed 250,000 nets prior to the arrival of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and since then has been involved in the distribution of a further 10 million nets as the Principal Recipient (distribution agent) for the Global Fund in PNG since 2009. There has been an overall 45% reduction in the incidence of malaria since 2009 and >70% reduction in some provinces.
In the Solomon Islands, RAM provided 180,000 nets before the Global Fund, Australian Government and Solomon Islands Ministry of Health took over operations. In 2002, RAM constructed (or rebuilt) 18 houses and 11 storage sheds for the malaria program in the seven provinces of the Solomon Islands with the assistance of RAWCS volunteers; five of these houses were fully-funded by Rotarians with AusAID providing material costs for the remaining buildings. RAM has since developed the Healthy Villages program to complement net distribution. The Healthy Villages program involves the supply of tools to villages with Ministry of Health-approved programs to conduct activities to limit areas for mosquito breeding. There has been a 75% overall reduction in malaria incidence since RAM’s involvement with the Solomon Islands and two provinces are at the pre-elimination stage.
RAM became involved with Timor Leste in 2006 when the incidence was 220 cases per 1000 people. RAM has provided 75,000 nets to assist the National Malaria Control Program and compliment the work of the Global Fund and the World Health Organisation. The incidence of malaria has been reduced to less than 1 in 10,000 since RAMs involvement with Timor Leste and we are committed to assisting the NMCP to achieve malaria free status by 2022.
There is an annual RAM Conference to update representatives on the progress of RAM programs and the latest research. It is a dynamic and engaging weekend for strategic planning and the conference is open to all with an interest in defeating malaria. The RAM Conference was commenced in 2002 by Richmond Manyweathers and has been continued annually ever since. Starting in 2015 the Conference venue has been rotated between Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney to make it easier for more Rotarians, Rotaractors and Research Scientists to attend.
RAM currently has its seventh National Chair in David Pearson. Past National RAM Chairs include John Reddish (up to 2000), Richmond Manyweathers (2001-2003), Peter Thomas (2004-2006), Bill Dethlefs (2007-2009), Ian Sayers (2010-2012) and Phil Dempster (2013-2015)
After the eradication of polio, RAM would like to see the global community work towards eliminating malaria.
Updated Sept 2017
Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM)
The RBM Partnership was launched in 1998 by WHO, UNICEF, UNDP and the World Bank, in an effort to provide a coordinated global response to the disease. Check their website