What is ROMEX?
Romex-Rotary Medical Equipment Exchange is a Rotary project of District 9320, South Africa, organized and managed by the Rotary Club of Arcadia. District 9320 comprises 52 clubs that are all involved in one way or another.
Over the past eight years, Romex has developed an international; network of Rotarians in the Netherlands, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany who are able to assist with the collection and shipping of quality surplus medical equipment from First World countries to South Africa.
The equipment is donated by medical institutions that modernise their equipment on a regular basis. This has resulted in the delivery of close to R100 million worth of quality medical equipment to beneficiaries in South Africa.
The Origins of ROMEX
In 1991 Dr Henk Kayser was personally exposed in his profession to severe medial equipment shortages in an area of dire poverty. He initiated the concept of matching the overabundance in the developed world with the severe shortages in the developing world.
In 1997 as a past president of the Rotary Club of Arcadia in East London, Dr Kayser successfully obtained a Carl P. Miller Discovery Grant from the Rotary Foundation. He travelled for two months during 1998 and called on 16 Rotary Districts in the Netherlands, Canada and United States.
This contact with many Rotarians and charitable institutions resulted in the formation of the Rotary Medical Equipment Bank, a project of the seven districts in the Netherlands. At the same time, the Rotary Medical Equipment Exchange was established in District 9320, South Africa.
In 1999, the very first shipment of equipment from Canada to South Africa arrived: two containers with a total value of R4.5 million.
This was the start of an ongoing supply of used medical equipment to severely under resourced medical facilities and individuals throughout South Africa.
The initiative grew in leaps and bounds. Rotary Clubs in District 9320 joined forces to lend a hand. Sources of equipment spread from Canada to the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany.
Who benefits from ROMEX?
Romex provides an ideal channel for all involved:
· Donors are assured of a professionally handed process ensuring that domains reach their intended recipients;
· Rotary Clubs involved are able to fulfil their mandate to assist their communities and
· The recipients are supplied with equipment to meet their needs and improve the quality of medical care and infrastructure.
Public interest in Romex has also resulted in impressive public relations value for Rotary International both in South Africa and abroad. The project has a significant public appeal as it reaches the heart of human suffering in a country beset by poverty and under-development.
Thus, Rotary International as an organisation has a significant stake in the success of Romex.
Recipients are identified by various Rotary Clubs in South Africa and include state, non-government organisations and private individuals.
Clubs collect the equipment in East London fro transport to their communities or recipients collect directly at the Romex warehouse. Thousands have benefited through donations to hospitals and clinics, hospices, old age homes and charitable organisations caring for the sick and disabled.
Equipment has gone as far south as Mowbray Hospital in Cape Town and far north as Kalafong Hospital at the University of the North.
The summary of the recipients gives a rough idea of the scope and spread of beneficiaries:
· Rotary Clubs in South Africa have distributed equipment to their own communities and beneficiaries;
· Direct deliveries have been made to:
o Charitable organisations
o Church organisations and many individuals.
What has ROMEX done?
To date, Romex has delivered 45 consignments, of which 40 were 40ft containers, to the value of around R100 million.
Examples of equipment delivered include:
· 4x4 vehicle
· X-ray machines
· Hydraulic hospital beds
· Operating theatre equipment
· Swabs and disposable nappies
· Renal equipment
C-Arm X Ray machine: R1 million
Electric Invalid Scooter: R40,000
High-care hospital bed: R24,000
What ROMEX really means to the suffering…
These case studies, just a few of the thousands, clearly show the meaningful impact of Romex in the lives of the needy:
· An elderly, disabled woman who was previously carried about in a wheelbarrow, received a proper wheelchair;
· An empty operating theatre was provided with an operating table;
· Paraplegics nursed in ordinary beds are now cared for in proper hospital beds;
· Obstetric departments in two hospitals received resuscitation units for newborns;
· An orthopaedic theatre running out of Betadine scrub could fall back on a Romex supply;
· A training unit for First Aid without an Ambu Bag received one;
· Hospital beds held together with strapping in an orthopaedic ward were replaced with high care beds;
· Respirator tubing patched with tape in an intensive care unit for children was replaced;
· A paediatric unit playing “eeny meeny mini mo” to decide which baby could use the incubator, was supplied with five incubators;
· A renal unit running out of usable renal dialysis machines received five and
· A mother who used to carry her paralysed son to school until he was too heavy for her, was provided with a wheelchair so he could continue his schooling.
The stories are endless…
It is a privilege for Romex to be part of an international network of caring Rotarians, charitable organisations overseas helping hands in government departments and private firms in South Africa to provide help where it is so badly needed.
Where to now, Romex?
Romex has now reached a significant turning point. Its overwhelming success now necessitates a more professional and strategic direction. The following vision and mission clearly state its position:
To improve quality of life of the frail, sick and disabled members of society by providing hospitals, clinics, hospices, old age homes, registered welfare organisations and needy individuals throughout South Africa with equipments and medical supplies.
To be reliable, trustworthy and ethical conduit for quality used medical equipment and other health related supplies donated internationally through a Rotary network in Europe, the United States, Canada and South Africa.
Until now, Romex has been able to operate as a voluntary project at very little cost. Collection of equipment and all inward transport costs have so far always been covered by Rotary friends overseas. The authorities exempt Rotary from import duties and Value Added Tax (VAT), Portnet and Spoornet waive their changes while local clearing agents Kuhne and Nagel and World Net Logistics, after many years of providing their services pro Deo, charge a minimal fee for landing the containers. RRN Removals, owned by Gately Rotary Club Past President Raj Naidoo, transports all the containers free of charge. Romex has also enjoyed free warehousing since the first containers arrived in 1999.
Romex has been able to deliver valuable equipment virtually free of cost. Rotary Clubs in District 9320 have also assisted the project by contributing to expenses.
Circumstances are beginning to change.
The rent-free warehouse has been sold and the new owners require a rental, albeit a reduced amount. It has not been possible to acquire new, rent-free premises, The amount space required is 500m2 which at current market value will add approximately R90,000 per annum to the cost.
Furthermore, the administration entailed in the escalating Romex activities currently handled by Rotary volunteers might soon require some professional input.
The success of Romex and the value the project is adding to the development of medical infrastructure in South Africa now requires a more significant financial investment to secure its future sustainability and growth.
How can you become involved?
The Romex team has embarked upon a drive to source partners and benefactors to ensure the sustainability of this highly successful and valuable project.
Rotary intends to widen the sphere of Romex involvement:
· To solicit private sector support;
· To procure the financial support of foundations and trusts and
· To encourage individual benefactors to support Romex financially.
Romex will always remain a Rotary project, thus providing a sure guarantee of ethical and professional project delivery.
Romex will always involve Rotarian medical practitioners, therby ensuring the required knowledge of the medical sector for appropriate project delivery.
INVEST WITH CONFIDENCE IN THIS FLAGSHIP ROTARY INTERNATIONAL PROJECT.
WELL-KNOWN East London doctor Hendrik “Henk” Kayser, who dedicated himself to helping the underprivileged, died on Monday after a short illness.
Rainer Wiethoff Tel +27 (0) 43 735 3090 Cell: +27 (0) 83 676 2162
Alan Beaumont Tel/Fax: +27(0)43-721 0603 / Cell: 083 305 6913
Dr Hendrik ‘Henk’ Kayser passed away on 7th Sep. 2009.
Below is an obituary which appeared in the Daily Dispatch on 12th Sep. 2009:
OBITUARY: Dr Hendrik ‘Henk’ Kayser ( November 25, 1925 – September 7, 2009)
Kayser, who was 84, was born in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and studied medicine at the University of Leiden, graduating in 1952. In 1955 he married Diana Blake and they were blessed with five children.
In 1957, Kayser and Diana moved to South Africa, where he practised as a general practitioner in Durban and then in East London for the remainder of his career.
Kayser divorced his wife in 1973 and married Sue Southey, with whom he had two children.
During his stay in East London, Kayser became involved with the Rotary Club of Arcadia and in 1989 was elected as club president.
In 1990 he took up the post of Minister for Health in the then-Ciskei government and had to resign from the Rotary Club.
His tenure in Ciskei lasted for three years, after which he rejoined the Rotary Club of Arcadia. He again became president in 1995 and remained so until 1996.
Kayser travelled to Europe and North America to set up a system in which medical equipment due to be replaced in hospitals there was collected and sent to South African hospitals in dire need of such equipment.
Thus began the Rotary Medical Equipment Exchange (Romex), founded in 1998.
Kayser’s long-time friend, Gregory Sahd, said he wished he could “multiply Kayser by 100 000” because of the immense skill and dedication he brought to the Romex project.
“The containers from overseas were coming at an incredible rate and were always waiting at the harbour,” said Sahd.
He described Kayser as a “man for all seasons” and now, when Kayser arrived in the “departure lounge”, he was one of a rare breed of people who could honestly say, “I left this planet a better place than I found it”.
Kayser’s wife Sue described her late husband as a wonderful and passionate person who loved to help people without wanting any recognition for it.
She said he always looked forward to the future and urged people to live a healthy lifestyle.
“Our lives will never be the same without him and his unconditional love, which he shared with both family and friends,” she said.
Kayser is survived by his wife Sue, seven children and 12 grandchildren. His funeral service will be held today at the Trinity Methodist Church at 2.30pm. - By XOLISA MGWATYU
SERVICE ABOVE SELF