Sri Lankan business personality, Dr. Rohantha Athukorala has been honored 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, a communique from Rotary Head Quarters in Chicago, United States, said.
They will be recognized at the 2021 Global Convention for their outstanding contribution.
Commenting on the award Athukorala said: “Rotary is undoubtedly one of the strongest service organizations in Sri Lanka for project management. This includes interactors who work at the school end and Rotaractors in the University end of the postgraduate segments of Sri Lanka. This award is a win for Rotary/Rotaract and Interactors of Sri Lanka”.
Dr. Athukorala, a marketing professional, who has had a 17-year career with top British and American multinational, was also the Chairman of Sri Lanka Export Development Board and Sri Lanka Tourism which gave him the experience to conceptualize the project ‘Stop the Spread’ that was picked as a national project for the year 2020/21 by the 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. It was a unique project in our ecosystem that helped fight the Covid-19 deadly virus, Governor Weerasinghe said.
‘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 social distance, body temperate watch and washing one’s hands in a somewhat controlled ecosystem, which supported the government’s efforts on how to contain the Covid-19 virus.
At present, more than 100,000 people have fallen prey to the virus with 625 deaths in Sri Lanka. The advocacy model 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, says Weerasinghe, the Director/CEO of CIC, a a blue chip company in Sri Lanka.
Concurrent to the ‘Stop the Spread’ attitude changing concept, Rotary Sri Lanka mooted the idea of a certification program for businesses to bring to the DNA the new health protocols required in an organization.
The Sri Lanka Standards Institute (SLSI) developed 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 organizations, the apparel sector and hotels which quantified the contribution of Rotary during the pandemic commented, Dr. Athukorala noted.
The award winning Sri Lankan professional has also served the United Nations (UNOPS) in his illustrious multinational career. He now heads a leading Artificial Intelligence (AI) company for the South Asian Region.
“The Covid-19 spike 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 behavior”, he stressed.