“It was around early nineties. The polio campaign was going on in our block. One ASHA bahin came to my house. She needed help and it was a difficult situation. She told me the head of one madrasah was not allowing her to immunise his newborn child with “Do Boond Zindegi ke”. The child was already a month old after home delivery. It was alarming because if these religious influencers deny to immunise their children, then the entire community would become resistant. I went to meet that person personally. He had full of misconceptions and god knows from where he got those information. He was adamant and not ready to listen me. It took about a week to make him understand that the Immunization team was Allah-ke-faristey (messenger of God) and Allah send them to protect your child from preventable diseases, not to make your child disabled.”
– Md. Shahdat
Community Mobiliser, Garmukteshwar, Western Uttar Pradesh.
While India is celebrating its fifth year as a polio free country (since 2014), I feel privileged to celebrate my birthday to listen these unsung heroes behind the greatest achievement in the history of public health system of India. But quoting my mentor of public health, who always says, “The battle is on. The war is not over. As long as polio continues to happen in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”