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How Two Ordinary Citizens Stepped Up to Be Legit Changemakers in Global Health

UK Department for International Development/flickr

In extraordinary circumstances, everyday people step up and become global changemakers. Today, we introduce you to two such individuals: Sadia, a polio “Lady Vaccinator” working in the Peshawar region of Pakistan, and Dr. Soka Moses, a Liberian doctor who ran a health clinic during the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

Though their work on the ground is drastically different, they share the same passion and overarching goal of eradicating diseases.

Take Action: Urge the G20 to Make Necessary Preparations to Prevent Pandemics

Sadia

Sadia travels door to door vaccinating children in communities in the Peshawar region along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border, one of only two areas worldwide with active polio outbreaks (the other is the Borno state in northern Nigeria).  

Despite the serious nature of her work, Sadia finds solace in humor to get through the difficult task of vaccinating children. Watch Sadia talk about her work here:

Thanks to countless vaccinators such as Sadia, the number of global cases of polio fell from 350,000 cases per year in 1988 to only 37 cases last year. That success is due in huge part to local interventions. Women who live in the communities they service are able to build trust with individuals skeptical of vaccination.

Read More: New Heat-Proof Vaccine Could Save 1,300 Lives a Day

Considering polio is 99.99% eradicated worldwide, it may seem like the work is over – but the final stretch is the most important. Since poliovirus cannot survive outside of the human body for long periods, it will die out once it cannot find an unvaccinated person to infect. That is why every child must be vaccinated to eradicate polio – that includes children in the most remote areas of the world. This makes Sadia, and the vaccinators like her, so vital to the goal of eradicating polio.

Dr. Soka Moses

Over 8,000 miles away, and cultures apart, Dr. Soka Moses rose to the occasion during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Based in Liberia, one of three countries hit the hardest by the epidemic, Dr. Moses was a first responder on the ground treating patients who contracted the highly-contagious disease.

Watch Dr. Moses discuss what it’s like to be a doctor during an outbreak and the difficulties of the work conditions here:

While the height of the Ebola outbreak has passed, Dr. Moses’ work is far from finished. Ebola survivors oftentimes face a series of health conditions including, “joint pain, dizziness, blurred vision, lack of ability to concentrate,” says Dr. Moses. That is why he opened a clinic for Ebola survivors in Monrovia, Liberia in August 2015. To date, Dr. Moses treats Ebola survivors for lingering conditions related to the disease.

Read More: Heroic Ebola Survivor Named Time Person of the Year Dies in Child Birth

The global response time to both polio and ebola have been reactive, and not preventative. In our highly-globalized world, we must ensure there are preventative measures in place, such as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, to be ready for the next outbreak.

You can learn about the stories of Dr. Moses and many other courageous disease warriors by watching the documentary Unseen Enemy, during the CNN premiere Friday, April 7th at 10 pm EST, or online on CNNGo starting April 8th.

Take action now to fight against future diseases together, by urging the G20 to support CEPI and other vital initiatives.