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Pakistani anti-polio worker fights odds to perform duty

By Islamuddin Sajid

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan 

A video of an anti-polio worker in Pakistan walking through waist-deep snow to administer vaccines to children is doing the rounds on social media gathering praise from humanitarian groups.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he admired the efforts of Pakistani workers fighting against the crippling polio virus. 

“There are no weather conditions that stop #HealthWorkers in #Pakistan from reaching children with #polio vaccines. I have so much admiration for these unstoppable health heroes on their mission to serve the vulnerable & keep the world safe. Thanks to them we will #EndPolio,” Ghebreyesus tweeted.

The amateur video shows a health worker in a remote area of Swat district, northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, struggling through heavy snow to reach children during last week’s nationwide anti-polio drive.

The first nationwide three-day anti-polio drive of 2019 aimed to vaccinate more than 39 million children under the age of 5.

“Not even icy waist-deep snow will stop this polio vaccinator from protecting the health of children in Pakistan. We honor his tireless dedication and the many other heroes doing whatever it takes to vaccinate children across the world,” UNICEF said.

Babar Atta, prime minister focal person for polio eradication in Pakistan, has invited the health worker identified as Irfan Ullah and Mumtaz Ali, who shot the video, to the prime minister house on Wednesday to encourage their efforts

Pakistan is among three countries in the world, including Afghanistan and Nigeria, affected by the polio virus.

The Taliban have frequently targeted anti-polio vaccinators who go door-to-door in several parts of Pakistan.

The armed militants allege the drive is part of an anti-Muslim conspiracy, however, the security situation has improved in recent years.


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