Polio Hero

Before dawn on the first day of the National Immunization Days in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Vaccinator Antoine Ngusu Hely is fully awake despite the early hour.

Vaccinator Antoine Ngusu Hely vaccinates an adult woman in Kaemie, DRC. Photo: UNICEF/Bibimbu

At the health center of Kitutu, a storage site in the health zone of Nyemba in Kalemie, he tells us: “Yesterday evening I programmed the alarm on my phone for 4 AM to make sure that I will be on time at the storage site to gather all my vaccination equipment.

He maintains his dynamic throughout the day. In the evening he has a big smile and expresses his satisfaction. “I didn’t meet any family that refused the vaccination.”

His fellow vaccinator Kabazo Ildefonso, in the health area of Kalemie’s University knows that vaccination affects not only children but also adults. Shortly before leaving his house at 6 AM this morning, he had instructed his wife to get their child immunized but also herself.

Ildefonso’s first stop is at the health center Kituku, which also the space to store vaccines and vaccinator equipment. “I didn’t want to start my vaccination journey without ensuring that the amount of vaccine is sufficient, that the expiry date of vaccines is good”, as he explains.

When we meet him again at the end of the day Ildefonso has a big smile on his face “I am quite satisfied with the work of this first campaign day.” And indeed, besides reaching dozens of families in his area of intervention the young man also had to vaccinate staff from international organizations (WFP, UNICEF), NGOs and students of the University of Kalemie. He hopes to reach at least a similar number the following day.

In the Kinshasa area, the vaccination days were launched by a musical group made up of polio survivors.

child is one too many, reads this poster at an anti-polio concert. Photo: WHO/E. Kabambi Kabangu

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