Zhiarai would be considered by many to be a dangerous district with a heavy presence of Taliban fighters. The region remains a major battle ground for the NATO forces and Afghan military. The area is heavily riddled with landmines and working in the area is extremely dangerous for anyone.
For the last five years the Taliban did not allow Polio vaccinations to take place in Southern Zhiarai which resulted in an estimated 12,000 children inaccessible to vaccination.
Because of this, the area reported large Polio out breaks, with five confirmed Polio cases in 2011 and six in 2012.
Several rounds of negotiations were held with the local Taliban commanders, who finally agreed to allow vaccinations to happen in the area. However, considering the risks involved, no one was willing to step up and lead the process. For obvious reasons the local communities were scared and not fully prepared to give out the vaccinations. You can't blame people for being hesitant.
Fazli Ellahi, was assigned to work with the communities to make a vaccination program work.
This brave man, took up the responsibility and worked closely with the local communities to motivate local volunteers who would go house to house and vaccinate young children. Instantly giving them a shot at life that they might never have without the needed vaccines.
Two rounds of slow, low profile Polio vaccination campaigns were held in the area from October to December. In order to ensure low visibility, specially designed small thermos flasks that could easily fit in someone's pocket were created to carry the vaccines. This was done to minimize the attention that vaccination givers would receive.
I'm happy to share that no new Polio cases have been reported from the area after October 2012 due to the successful vaccination campaign.
Please take a moment to think about all of the people like Fazli around the globe who are doing their part to make an impact.
Photo Credits: WHO Afghanistan
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This story comes from the World Health Organization- Afghanistan and is part of Shot@Life’s ’28 Days of Impact’ Campaign. A follow up to Blogust to raise awareness for global vaccines and the work being done by Shot@Life and their partners to help give children around the world a shot at a healthy life. Each day in February, you can read another impactful story on global childhood vaccines. Tomorrow, don’t miss FreeAnissa’s post! Go to www.shotatlife.org/impact to learn more.