Interplast: Rotary’s best kept success storyInterplast

Over the past 40 years, Rotary and Interplast have made a significant contribution to improving the health and wellbeing of people in need in the Asia-Pacific region, and have set an inspiring example of what can be achieved through effective collaboration and partnership.

In the early 1980s, Dr Gerald Duff, a general practitioner and Rotarian, initiated discussions with Rotary District 980 (now 9800), with the aim of bringing the Interplast concept to Australia.

A joint project between District 980 and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons eventuated, and in 1983 Interplast Australia was established to provide volunteer medical teams to carry out plastic and reconstructive surgery in developing countries.

Interplast Australia’s very first program was conducted in Samoa in 1983 and was fully funded by Rotarians. The second program to Fiji, also funded by Rotarians, garnered interest from the Australian Government, which recognised the importance of such foreign aid, and allocated additional partial funding for programs throughout the Pacific Islands. 

The ongoing partnership between Interplast and Rotary in Australia and New Zealand has contributed to Rotary achieving its humanitarian goals in our region, and aligns closely with Rotary’s commitment to improving health and promoting peace and goodwill.

In 2023, Interplast continues to undertake surgical and allied health programs in 16 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, from Samoa to Bhutan, and its partnership with Rotary is as strong as ever. Support from Rotary now includes funding for surgical programs, equipment and supplies, as well as training and education programs for local clinicians. With the generous support of clubs and individual Rotarians, Rotary is helping to build sustainable healthcare systems in the countries Interplast partners with. By empowering local healthcare workers, Interplast and Rotary will have a lasting impact in the communities we serve – both international and vocational service in action.

Interplast remains dedicated to its highly valued partnership with Rotary, and looks forward to the next 40 years, working side by side with Rotary clubs and Rotarians, as together we continue making a difference to the lives of people in need.

PICTURED: Runella and her grandma after cleft lip surgery. Interplast’s surgical trip to Solomon Islands in February 2023 was funded by Rotary Districts 9930 and 9780; INSET: Cleft lips and palates run in one-year-old Runella’s family. Her mum and grandmother (pictured) were also born with bi-lateral clefts.