A Journey Through Pakistan To Help Rid Our World of Polio

A Journey Through Pakistan To Help Rid Our World of Polio

10.25.12 | By Jennifer Wall

[caption id="attachment_4244" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Asad Zaidi/Courtesy of UNICEF Pakistan"][/caption]

I've been reading a series on NPR about the history of polio and how increasing immunization rates around the world are leading to an almost complete eradication of this disease. Yesterday's NPR post was particularly compelling - it was an account of the long journey the vaccine often takes to reach patients, particularly children, living in remote parts of the Middle East.

Imagine living in a rural village in the middle of Pakistan, where mountains separate you from the rest of the world. Where roads, airports or rivers are something you read about in a book, not what you see in your daily life.

Now imagine how difficult it would be to transport a biologic medicine (a medicine composed of living matter that has to be stored at certain temperatures to ensure its validity) to patients living in the remote village I just described. Years ago, nobody would have ever imagined that delivering a medicine to a location such as this would be possible. But today, it is a reality.

NPR showcased this journey through photos provided by UNICEF, which illustrate the difficult and long journey through the desolate mountains to a small village nearly 750 miles away from the city of Islamabad.

As you will see in the photos, it really gives planes, trains and automobiles a whole new meaning. Literally. Planes, jeeps, boats, horses and donkeys were the main sources of transport for the vaccine. And with the vaccine stored in ice-filled coolers due to temperature requirements, time was of the essence.

As NPR noted, this journey to the same village will occur not only once, but several times, to ensure that children receiving the vaccine are properly inoculated. But I think we can all agree that it is well worth the long journey because it represents one more critical step in ridding the world of this debilitating disease and an inspiring example of hope that one day every single parent on this earth will no longer have to worry about their child suffering from the effects of this disease.

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