Recognising Health Care Workers This World Polio Day

Polio workers around the world overcome huge obstacles every day to protect millions of children and ensure that we end polio.

Shafiullah is both a polio victim and one of the heroes of the eradication effort, working as an advocate for polio vaccination in villages near his home in Afghanistan. WHO Afghanistan/Y.Khan
Shafiullah is both a polio victim and one of the heroes of the eradication effort, working as an advocate for polio vaccination in villages near his home in Afghanistan. WHO Afghanistan/Y.Khan

World Polio Day on 24 October provides an opportunity to reflect on just how many hands are contributing to making polio history. From committed donors and governments to citizen activists and non-governmental organisations to international partners, thousands of people work tirelessly to get vaccines to every last child.

But at the heart of polio eradication efforts stand health workers across the world who put themselves on the frontline day after day, sometimes in dangerous situations or tackling tough terrain, to get vaccines to children.

Shafiullah is a volunteer advocate who works in villages near his home to persuade reluctant parents to give their children the vaccines they need to provide them with essential protection against polio. He has convinced 30 families in the last four months to change their stance on vaccination, meaning that over 150 children are now safe against the virus. Shafiullah knows why this work is so important, because he himself is a polio survivor. “The poliovirus is my personal enemy,” he says. “Many people don’t understand how serious polio is and that it cannot be cured, but when I show them my paralysed limbs and talk to them about the safety of the vaccine, they change their attitude and ask for the vaccine.”

Read more of Shafiullah’s story.

Around the world, health workers like him are fighting to end this disease forever. To finish the job, the GPEI must focus efforts on reaching every last child in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria with polio vaccines, while protecting the hard-won progress made in polio-free parts of the world. It is health workers who will make this essential task possible. Without health workers, disease surveillance, building trust and delivering vaccines would be impossible.

Join us in saying thank you to health care workers around the world tackling polio today on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtags #endpolio and #worldpolioday.


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