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Rotarians fighting Hydrocephalus in Bolivia

Hydrocephalus is a condition where excessive accumulation of spinal fluid in the brain causes children’s heads to grow out of proportion to their bodies. While Bolivia’s health care system pays for surgery and postoperative care in treating hydrocephalus, the cost of inserting valves to continue diverting the fluid is not covered. The result, according to members of the Rotary Club of La Paz, is that too many Bolivians continue to be threatened by the disease. So the Club created a “Valve Bank” some 15 years ago to help hundreds of needy patients receive the devices. This initiative, celebrated as a model for how a host-driven project started with matching Rotary grants can morph into a successful global grant project. They are now on track to see the donation of its 1,000th valve this month.

A $35 fee is collected from each patient’s family — not so much to offset the cost which is several hundred dollars — but to help them feel like partners in the effort to fight the disease. One more way Rotarians around the world are working to make their world a little better place.