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Where vaccines mean life

23 March 2020, Action for Change

The vaccination program giving communities hope

Living in a remote part of the Somali region of Ethiopia , far from medical care, ten-year-old Najma and her seven siblings have had to contend with all kinds of illness.

It’s something that upsets Najma a lot. “I have seen my sister sick and coughing because of disease. When I see my sister and brother sick, I get sad,” she says. 

Their village is more than half an hour away from a main road and a very long distance from any medical facilities or schools. It’s a place where Najma and her family struggle to survive, let alone thrive, amid drought, conflict and frequent illness. 

The immunisation program

In such a remote location, prevention is the main form of healthcare and the whole community rallies round each time healthcare visitors, that are trained by Save the Children, arrive. The healthcare visitors bring vaccines that protect against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio and Hib disease. Elders go from house to house, mothers put other anxious parents at ease and curious teenagers come to watch their baby siblings get their injections. It’s a family affair and an opportunity that every generation is embracing. It’s an initiative that’s saving lives and giving people hope.

Recently, Najma’s nine-month-old sister Tufah was given her final vaccination against a common childhood killer - measles. 

Tufah is healthy and well thanks to the vaccinations. Previously we didn't have this program, so we had no vaccinations. When Save the Children came around, we felt relief and confidence. We are not afraid of outbreaks now.

Nura, Tufah's mum

Tufah waits for her vaccination with mum Nura.
Photo: Hanna Adcock / Save the Children


The immunisation worker

Save the Children supported the training of Ifra Mahamud, who vaccinated Tufah along with other members in the community. It’s a relief to her that Tufah is finally protected against measles. 

“Measles infects the most people. Polio also used to infect many people but after the vaccinations and the awareness-raising, rates are now low.”

She’s seen how community attitudes have changed over the years towards the immunisation program, and how it’s protecting more children than ever before. 

“The community feels very great. They welcome me warmly and come for the vaccination from very far away. As for fear, it used to be there in the past, but now people know there is nothing to be afraid of.”

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