Polio eradication loses a friend and a guide
Dr Ali Jaffer Mohamed passes away
The polio eradication family grieves for Dr Ali Jaffer Mohamed, who passed away unexpectedly on 14 May.
Official eulogies will mention his role as Chair of the Independent Evaluation for Polio Eradication, of the Eastern Mediterranean’s Regional Technical Advisory Group for Immunization and of the World Health Organization’s Regional Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication. This citizen of Oman served public health within his country but also well beyond its borders, including as Chair of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization.
Dr. Jaffer’s talent ranged far beyond the technical. He played a key role a number of times during discussions within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ministers of Health meetings, where he strongly defended WHO’s pre-qualification process that ensures that vaccines are safe and effective. His interventions focused on the need to protect all children from preventable diseases, and the scientific basis for using vaccines that have shown to be effective worldwide, including in all OIC member states. Dr. Jaffer’s persuasive arguments helped ensure that there was no disruption in the vaccination campaigns in OIC member states and helped protect millions of children against polio paralysis.
His accessibility, warmth and humility touched all polio eradication workers with whom he came into contact, be they front-line vaccinator, senior manager, financial assistant, or epidemiologist. His insights and guidance into how we might reach every child, everywhere, with life-saving vaccines has brought the world to a point where it will soon be free of polio, forever.