This is Gafo

Papua New Guinea’s first polio case in decades is a champion for eradication

Gafo is the first case of polio in Papua New Guinea in almost two decades. WHO PNG/J.Rivaca

For six-year old Gafo that fateful April 2018 morning was supposed to be the start of just another day full of running around and playing with friends. Ignoring the pain in his legs, Gafo tried to get out of bed, but he fell and struggled to get back up. Over the course of the next two days, Gafo’s condition continued to deteriorate. On the third day, Gafo and his family visited the Angau Memorial General Hospital in Lae, Morobe, in the central northern coast of Papua New Guinea, only to find out that he had polio.

As soon as Gafo’s story broke, a National Emergency was declared by the Government and a mass polio vaccination campaign was initiated. Gafo became the foremost champion of polio awareness, and served as a cautionary tale for families and young children to get vaccinated.

Since his diagnosis, Gafo has made progress. Though he can now walk with his signature gait, Gafo and his parents understand that polio is irreversible, but is preventable and eradicable. Gafo hopes to become a doctor one day. Read about his entire journey from being an ordinary child to breaking news, and how his story has helped contain polio in Papua New Guinea.

This story is originally from the Papua New Guinea Polio Outbreak Response First 100 Days report.


Related News

   01/07/2022
New guidance anticipated to quicken progress in achieving necessary safeguards
   30/05/2022
World Health Assembly challenged to take urgent action before window of opportunity closes to eradicate polio; tackle cVDPVs with same urgency as WPVs
   26/05/2022
Meeting in Berlin focused on supporting vaccine equity and pandemic response in developing countries
   18/05/2022
18 May 2022
   11/05/2022
The support of community leaders and influencers is crucial in motivating parents and caregivers to vaccinate their children against polio
   13/04/2022
With wild polio at lowest levels in history, SAGE also turns focus on post-eradication