Recognising the real heros

On behalf of frontline polio workers everywhere

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Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, UN Foundation Board Member and Former Director-General of the World Health Organization; and Martha Dodray, a frontline polio worker from Bihar, India UN Foundation

Until this month, frontline polio worker Martha Dodray had never left her home state of Bihar, let alone India. But on 6 November, Martha was a guest of honour at the United Nation Foundation’s Global Leadership Dinner in New York City – alongside the UN Secretary-General, Malala Yousafzai, and other leading figures from the health and development sector.

Martha Dodray had been invited to the prestigious dinner to receive a Global Leadership Award on behalf of the more than 20 million health workers and volunteers who have been involved in efforts to eradicate polio. These polio heroes often work through the midday heat, travel long distances and sometimes face deadly insecurity just to ensure that children are protected against polio.

Introducing Martha and inviting her to the stage on behalf of polio workers around the world, Dr Gro Brundtland, UN Foundation Board Member and Former Director-General of the World Health Organization, said the following:

“I don’t use the word ‘hero’ lightly. That’s what they are. Thanks to their efforts, the number of polio-endemic countries has dropped from 125 in 1988 to just three this year. The number of cases, from 350,000 in ’88, to just 223 in 2012.”

The crowd broke into rapturous applause.

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