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Vaccinating children against life-threatening diseases in the
middle of an intense conflict can be a tough challenge. Over the
past few weeks, polio vaccinates in Yemen, Sanaa, Yemen have braved
Vaccinating children against life-threatening diseases in the middle of an intense conflict can be a tough challenge. Over the past few weeks, polio vaccinates in Yemen, Sanaa, Yemen have braved rough terrains and crossed hostile front lines, criss-crossing valleys and mountains to reach children, some of whom have been displaced by the conflict. Their work has been challenged by insecurity, roadblocks, fuel shortages and power outages, among other obstacles.
In the first campaign of its kind this year, 40,000 vaccinates spread across the conflict-ridden nation to vaccinate 5 million under-five children in a door-to-door campaign against polio.
Ahmed Abdullah is one of these vaccinates. Together with three other colleagues he sets off to vaccinate children in the village of Alanaf, located north of the capital city, Sanaa. But getting to the remote village is no easy task.
The helpful fifth member of Ahmeds team is a donkey. This resilient animal is contributing immensely towards saving childrens lives in Yemen. It carries the all-important gas cylinder that is used to power the generator that keeps the vaccine container cold. This prevents the vaccines from degrading.
After loading all of the necessary items on the donkeys back, Ahmeds team sets off for the mountain top in sweltering heat. Half way through, their hearts are pounding from exhaustion and a rest is needed. Ahmed uses this break as an opportunity to remind his colleagues of the task ahead.
His team covers around 20 to 30 households each day over the course of the three-day campaign. After a child is vaccinated, his or her index finger is marked, and the house is marked as well. This is to make sure that no child is missed. The house marking also helps the team to know where they ended the previous day, and where to begin from the following day.
The children in Yemen are living on the brink of famine and malnutrition, an extremely high risk of disease. Moreover, over half of Yemens medical facilities are closed or partially functioning, and the health system is on the verge of a collapse.
With the health system hanging in the balance, the campaign initiated by Ahmed is very helpful to the people. The campaign is not only helping the kids improve their health but also ensuring that stay free of diseases, all this at the expense of risking their own lives. The world needs more of such people, especially in a war-torn country like Yemen. The team is defining the meaning of humanity and in a noble way!