Meet Gulab Khatoon, a polio vaccinator braving the harsh snow of Gilgit-Baltistan to immunise children

Nothing can stop her from her mission to eradicate polio
Feb 27, 2019
Pictures of a polio campaigner went viral on social media last week. The vaccinator earned a lot of appreciation from across the world and home. Her name is Gulab Khatoon. She is a health worker in Phekar, a village in Nagar district. On February 20, Gulab Khatoon was on her mission in Gilgit-Baltistan to rid the country of the crippling disease. But she got stuck in snow four-feet deep. Her co-worker rescued her. The pictures taken of this moment went viral. The government of Pakistan's Polio Eradication Initiative lauded her for her invincible courage. Related: With a 99% success rate, anti-polio campaign highlights the dedication of Pakistan’s health workers “The area where we were on the immunisation drive was facing severe snowfall for two months. Even the first house of our campaign was in deep snow,” Gulab Khatoon told SAMAA TV. “When we started the anti-polio drive, the passages had already been blocked by a storm. We had a stick in our hand to help us cross the snow-covered path. When I proceeded, I sank into a pile of snow. My co-worker started screaming which alerted the people living nearby. They gave us a spade. We then walked ahead carrying our tally sheets and cooler,” she narrated. Related: 51% health care workers have experienced violence in Peshawar Gulab Khatoon said they then visited another area on foot and managed to cover over one-and-half kilometers. She said they covered 100% of their drive in the area. Abbas, the head of the polio campaign in Nagar district, said Gulab Khatoon gave her 100% and the results in the district reflected that. “We came to know that our area's vaccinators are working in heavy snowfall,” said Abbas. “We are extremely pleased that we have such dedicated staff working with us who can achieve their target even if it means risking their lives.” Pakistan's anti-polio campaign workers face severe cold, snowfall and rain in the northern areas of the country to cap off the countrywide drive against the crippling disease with a 99% success rate.

northern areas

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