When Munnibala Suman got on a bike for the first time in March, it wasn’t for fun. The 50-year-old health worker had been administering vaccines in the state of Bihar, India, for the past 30 years when a nationwide lockdown was announced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Suddenly many health workers found it difficult to travel, but Munnibala wasn’t deterred.
Determined to make a difference, she learned how to ride a bicycle in just three days to be able to reach children and pregnant women with vaccines.
Even before COVID-19, health workers in many countries faced enormous obstacles to carry out their lifesaving work and vaccine coverage over the past decade has stalled. But the pandemic has made a challenging situation even worse – disrupting the delivery of immunization services and threatening to reverse hard-won progress in reaching children with essential vaccines. Approximately 80 million children under the age of 1 are now at increased risk of vaccine-preventable diseases in 68 countries, as of May 2020.
UNICEF is supporting health workers around the world to continue their critical work to protect children against preventable diseases like polio, measles and tetanus and to help us avoid trading one health crisis for another.
Above: A child is vaccinated in Kosovo* where immunization services resumed after being temporarily halted due to the pandemic for nearly two months, May 2020.