Unsung Heroes: The story of brave female polio workers who risk their lives to deliver the vaccine

The polio vaccine has a lot of misconceptions associated with it. Many, especially people from the underprivileged areas who don’t have much awareness, are against getting children vaccinated; this is also why the polio workers have a big target on their back and often have to deal with mistreatment.

Pakistan is one of the few countries that are yet to eliminate polio successfully. Despite being well-aware of the risks, the brave workers put their lives at stake and deliver the vaccine to all corners of the country.

The story of Nasreen Bibi

Here’s the story of one of these workers named Nasreen Bibi, who was murdered in the process. The 44-year-old was delivering the polio vaccine in Chaman, Pakistan when her job took her life. Chaman is a city in the volatile region of Balochistan.

Nasreen and her co-worker Rashida had completed their work for the day and were waiting for a rickshaw so they could return home. While they were waiting, 2 masked men on a motorcycle appeared in front of them, raised their pistols, and shot Nasreen and Rashida multiple times.

While talking about the heart-wrenching incident, Rashida said that she was screaming for help as blood poured out of Nasreen’s body, but no individual stepped forward to help them. Rashida, who is 35 years old, was fortunate enough to survive the attack. However, it caused her permanent damage, and she cannot walk or support her five children’s family anymore.

Such threats result from campaigns against the vaccine by extremist religious leaders and politicians who have instilled in the public’s minds that the vaccine is only a western conspiracy and has no medical significance. They have also forced people into thinking that it is ‘against Islam’ as women deliver the vaccine.

This mindset is why Pakistan is yet to win this fight against the virus. Poliovirus continues to threaten our children’s health, but parents, specifically from conservative areas like Chaman, fail to understand it.

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