Meet Anis, the tailor who became a polio eradicator

I want to help my people – polio is a danger to every child, and we should eradicate it

Masooda manages a team of 56 community outreach workers. ©UNICEF/Afghanistan
Masooda manages a team of 56 community outreach workers. ©UNICEF/Afghanistan

Amidst the extreme heat of the Afghan summer, Masooda, a polio outreach worker, moves with confidence between houses. Her aim is to talk to families that refuse to vaccinate their children against polio. Her energy is endless and she tops that with a smile and a warm way of talking with women and men.

Masooda has an impressive range of skills. She works as a skilled midwife with passion for her community. She is also a District Communications Officer for the polio programme, leading a team of 56 community outreach workers in her neighbourhood.

“I want to help my people – polio is a danger to every child, and we should eradicate it”, says Masooda.

Masooda recalls her early days with the programme, “I faced tough refusal families who denied their children the polio vaccine. A woman refused to vaccinate her younger sister. After one year, the sister died of measles as she hadn’t been vaccinated against it. Now, the same woman has a baby girl and she frequently takes her baby to the health centre for vaccination. Sadly, she learnt her lesson the hard way”.

Masooda leaves her house at 6:30am during immunization campaigns, just as the sun rises. She checks the outreach plans with her teams before they disperse around the town. Through the day, she makes supervisory visits to her teams and obtains updates on vaccine uptake issues. When she receives reports on absent and missing children, she converses with families in order to encourage them to vaccinate their children.

To eradicate polio from Afghanistan, Masooda thinks there is a lot more to do. She says, “I will continue to work hard, for every child to be able to walk, attend school and grow healthy. It is the whole community cause for generations to come.”

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