Sri Lankan honoured by Rotary International

Thursday, 29 April 2021 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Sri Lankan business personality Dr. Rohantha Athukorala has been honoured among the six members across the world as People of Action: Champions of Health by Rotary International. 

The award was in recognition of their proactive behaviour demonstrated to improve the foundation of good health at home and across the globe. 

The work of these members proved especially challenging due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which tested their ‘service above self’ ethos said the communique from Rotary Head Quarters in Chicago, United States. They will be recognised at the 2021 Global Convention for their outstanding contribution, said the announcement.

Commenting on the award, Athukorala said: “Rotary is undoubtedly one of the strongest service organisations in Sri Lanka for project management. This includes Interactors that work at the school end and Rotaractors who are in the university end at the postgraduate segments of Sri Lanka. This award is a win for Rotary/Rotaract and Interactors of Sri Lanka.”

Marketing professional Dr. Rohantha Athukorala who has had a 17-year career with top British and American multinationals was also the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Export Development Board and Sri Lanka Tourism which gave him the experience to conceptualise the project ‘Stop the Spread’ that was picked to be a national project for the year 2020/21 by Governor of Rotary Sri Lanka and Maldives Ajith Weerasinghe. 

The innovative project brought together 6,200 Interactors, 7,800 Rotaractors and 2,000 Rotarians under one theme driving multiple initiatives from attitude change communication to economic development projects during the pandemic year”. It was a unique project in our eco system that helped fight the deadly virus COVID-19,” said Governor Weerasinghe.

‘Stop the Spread’ used a two-step communication model driven by the Interactors using the voice of 280 South Asian, Commonwealth, Asian and Olympic Games medallions in partnership with the National Olympic Committee in the first stage of the roll out. 

The campaign created awareness on the new normal behaviour required like wearing a mask, keeping a social distance, body temperate watch and washing ones hands in a somewhat controlled eco system which supported the Government efforts on how to contain the COVID-19 virus. As at now almost 100,000 people have fallen prey to the virus with 625 of them being fatal. 

“The advocacy model now must be taken to the next level in Sri Lanka and also extended to the global stage in the partnership with the respective sports bodies of their home country,” said Governor Weerasinghe who is also the Director/CEO of a blue chip company CIC in Sri Lanka.

“Concurrent to the ‘Stop the Spread’ attitude changing communique, Rotary Sri Lanka mooted the idea of a certification program for businesses to bring to the DNA the new health protocols required in an organisation. The Sri Lanka Standards Institute (SLSI) got the best brains to develop the standards that led to the first-ever certification protocols for COVID protection being launched in country. Rotary then diffused the idea and certified almost 300 entities including schools, supermarkets, hotels, and top tea brands, global health and nutrition companies, international rubber organisations, the apparel sector and hotels which quantified the contribution of Rotary during the pandemic,” commented Dr. Athukorala. 

The award-winning Sri Lankan professional who has also served the United Nations( UNOPS) in his illustrious multinational career now heads a leading Artificial Intelligence (AI) company) for the South Asian region. 

“The recent spike we see in Sri Lanka is very worrying given the new strand we see in countries like India. We cannot afford another lockdown like last year. We have to stop the spread by regulating our behaviour,” added Athukorala.