A Sister With Polio, My Children Will Never Miss An Immunization
By Mwanaidi Msangi, Communications Associate, BID Initiative
Apr 23, 2015
Posted in General
This post is part of PATH’s #ProtectingKids blog series for World Immunization Week. Read the whole series here.
“I am very committed when it comes to immunization, I make sure all my children are immunized according to the schedule and no one misses a vaccination,” explained Fathiya Mohammed, a mother of three children. I met Fathiya at Kaloleni Health Facility in the Arusha region where she brought her 6 week-old baby, Samir Ally, for his first round of vaccinations. Also with her, were her two daughters, Samira and Salha.
When I asked Fathiya why she traveled to the clinic with three young children, she explained how important it was to protect her kids through vaccination because for many years she watched her younger sister, Munira, gradually become paralyzed because of polio. “It started with a head cold for a few days and we thought it was nothing serious, but then she was having trouble breathing and eventually received a confirmed diagnosis of polio. Soon after, her limbs became paralyzed.”
Munira is now an adult and still paralyzed. She cannot walk and her disabilities resulting from polio have not only affected the potential for Munira’s life, but also her caretakers, Fathiya and her family, who are financially responsible for her. With such a detrimental impact to her sister and family, Fathiya started reading about polio and learned that it is incurable and caused by a viral infection, which usually spreads via contaminated food and water. Most importantly, she also learned polio could be prevented with a vaccine.
“I understand that this disease often affects younger children and it is incurable, hence prevention is the only solution. This is why I emphasize the importance of taking your children for vaccinations to every parent in my community,” Fathiya continued.
Since she had her first child, Samira who is now nine, Fathiya knew that vaccines would play a vital role in keeping her children healthy. To this day, her children have never missed a vaccination.
“Unfortunately, misinformation about vaccines results in some parents deciding not to vaccinate their children, putting them and others at a greater risk for illness or even death. I believe that many children miss vaccinations because their mothers lack basic knowledge on how vaccines protect children,” added Fathiya.
Fathiya hopes health workers and the Tanzania Ministry of Health and Social Welfare continue creating awareness around the importance of immunizations among parents in both rural and urban communities since she knows very well how key it is to protecting kids from harmful, deadly diseases.