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Polio workers praised for being ‘heroes of the storm’

Updated January 02, 2019

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As per EOC polio data, 79 incidents reported by health workers mostly pertain to threat, intimidation and harassment. — File photo
As per EOC polio data, 79 incidents reported by health workers mostly pertain to threat, intimidation and harassment. — File photo

QUETTA: Napoleon Bona­parte once said: “It’s the cause not the death that makes the martyr”. This is true for all those who laid down their lives while serving the humanity.

The coordinator of the Emergency Operation Centre Balochistan, Rashid Razzaq, lauding the hard work put in by polio vaccinators remembered the sacrifices they gave during anti-polio campaigns.

Sakeena, a community health worker was martyred in January 2018 along with her 14-year-old daughter.

Her cause was to serve the humanity. She was martyred while performing duty to vaccinate children of Quetta.

Similarly, for 24-year-old Ghazala, the cause was to save children from the crippling disease. She was shot and critically injured by unidentified people with muffled faces.

The beginning and the end of 2018 regarding polio eradication programme in Balochistan was quite traumatic with fatalities reported. Yet, efforts of such brave ladies had become role model for so many others working in the field.

With the indefatigable efforts of these frontline workers, Balochistan became successful with reporting of zero polio case from the core reservoir districts namely Quetta, Pishin and Kila Abdullah.

Mr Razzaq said: “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than themselves. The brave community of health workers is our hero. They are the ones who perform their duties by visiting door-to-door under blazing sun and freezing cold. They face disrespect from many refusal families, yet they try to convince families to get their children vaccinated against the crippling disease. They work to save the future of children from life-long disability.

More than 4,000 frontline workers are striving hard to achieve zero-polio case status, especially in Quetta. Out of 4,000, around 93 per cent are females, and due to their constant efforts, 96pc children under the age of five received anti-polio drops in 2018.

On days when campaigns are running, utmost security is provided to frontline workers. However, keeping in view recent incidents, it is obligatory to revisit the mechanism whereby health workers move during campaigns, said Tahir Zafar Abbasi, Deputy Commissioner Quetta.

As per the EOC polio data, 79 incidents reported by health workers pertained mostly to threat, intimidation and harassment. Out of which, 10 caused injuries to workers with an incident of fatality reported in January 2018, where a community health worker along with her daughter was shot dead during anti-polio campaign.

Heroes are not born but made in times of strife and struggle. Everyone is capable of being a hero in their own way, often without even knowing it. They are the heroes to those around them.

Let’s salute the audacious, fearless and hardworking frontline workers who are our heroes, who risk their lives to save the lives of 37.8 million children of the country.

Published in Dawn, January 2nd, 2019