Thursday and Friday morning consisted of walking around the village to each house and giving out polio vaccines. Every child under 5 got a two drops of the polio vaccine. I went with two ladies from the village who were a couple of the many volunteers helping distribute polio vaccines to the community. I was in charge of marking the left pinkies of all the vaccinated children.
As we were walking from house to house, I thought about how effective this simple idea of vaccinations was. It reminded me of Mountains Beyond Mountains, a book I read in my Global Health class last year. One of their concepts involved community partners, women from the same Haitian community, that made sure patients took their antiretroviral drugs for those with AIDS/HIV. This strategy of medicine distribution made the importance of health more real and more personal. For the mothers children we were vaccinating, it must’ve been a relief to see someone from their own community, women who were also mothers, be the ones to give out the polio vaccines. This local strategy also allowed the young and old mothers to ask questions about polio or the vaccine and get answers back in their own Serer language. How cool is that?
The two ladies I helped distribute vaccines with
Apparently my two ladies had been distributing vaccines to the village for several years now. They said that most mothers now understood the importance of the polio vaccine. They do this routine every 6 months for all children under 5.
I got asked if we had Polio in the US, and I told her not really anymore, but we had a president who had Polio (FDR). She was so shocked to hear that. I never saw anyone in the village with polio (a very good sign!) but in Dakar I did. It is a very sad sight. Especially knowing with modern medicine, it’s completely preventable.