“As a mother I never want to see a child paralyzed in her mother’s arms … We can prevent this disease with just two drops of polio vaccine.”
Afghanistan is one of the last countries in the world where polio is endemic. Rahima Ahmadi, a polio vaccination coordinator in Mazar-e-Sharif, has dedicated much of her life to seeing Afghanistan polio-free.
For the past 15 years Rahima has worked in the Child Promotion Unit of the Provincial Health Department, with the World Health Organization (WHO), to carry out the country’s polio vaccination programme. Beginning as a volunteer, she was later employed as a supervisor and today is a programme coordinator.
She and her team visit home-by-home, street-by-street, to ensure all children are immunized.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works with WHO and the Afghan authorities in the polio vaccination drive.
Rahima's story. In her own words.
I am Rahima Ahmadi, a pharmacist in Public Health. In addition I am a coordinator in a police district in Mazar-e-Sharif city.
I have been working on the eradication of polio with the Public Health department, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
I have been working as a coordinator for 15 years. As a mother, I never want to see a child paralyzed in her mother’s arms. By eradicating polio, we can serve children, especially those who are under 5 years of age.
I worked for about 15 years as a volunteer in Mazar-e-Sharif and later as a supervisor. Then, based on merit, MRT and WHO assigned me to be a coordinator.
In each campaign we vaccinate between 7,000 and 8,000 children. They are vaccinated four times and sometimes five times a year. Polio is a wild killer virus that can paralyze a child. When a child is affected by polio, then 200 children in his or her area could be affected.
We can prevent this disease with two drops of polio vaccine. This vaccine has a very strong antibody and can prevent children under 5 years of age from getting polio. This vaccine is very important for children under 5 years.
One of the problems we have is lack of awareness about vaccinations. A number of families don’t know about the vaccine. In a number of places, due to the level of insecurity, children can’t receive the vaccine and it is difficult for me and colleagues to go there.
I hope by listening to my interview people can understand the importance of the polio vaccine and that they should not deprive their children of it. We have a problem with our people. We have many needy people. Our volunteers are enthusiastic, but when they go to people’s houses four times a year sometimes the reaction is: ‘What should we do with your vaccine? We need food, give us clothes for our children!’ We can’t satisfy these families. The vaccine is more important than food and clothes.
I hope the audience listening to my interview understands the importance of two drop of polio vaccine. These two drop of vaccine can eradicate polio in the world.
WHO and UNICEF are helping us in this regard. Five or 10 days in advance of each campaign, they train our volunteers. UNICEF, WHO and MRT are also giving us the materials and supplies we need.
I wish for a secure Afghanistan – to reach the children under 5 years of age and give them these two drops of polio vaccine. I expect my people to help. I hope the UN can help us in regards to the security of the country, in order to give our volunteers a chance to reach children who need this vaccine.
I congratulate the UN and all its members on its 70th anniversary. I have been working for the past 15 years with WHO and UNICEF. I have good memories of their real and honest humanitarian work and services to the people. I am thankful for their work.
Strong UN. Strong Afghanistan.
The UN in Afghanistan celebrates its partnership with Afghans who are making a difference for a strong Afghanistan.