The Telegraph
Thursday , July 10 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Unicef honour for lady on polio mission
- Documentary film in pipeline, recognition continues for healthcare worker in Darbhanga

Martha Dodarai, the auxiliary nurse midwife recognised for her polio eradication work last November by the United Nations, would now feature in a documentary film from the Unicef stable.

The feisty worker, in her 40s, associated with the Kusheshwar Asthan primary health centre in Darbhanga district shot into the limelight when she was recognised by the United Nations Foundation last year. She walks 20km everyday, sometimes through treacherous terrain, to reach a child for polio vaccination, to ensure not one child is missed.

Bhagwan Das, the medical officer in charge of the primary health centre, said: “Unicef contacted us in April. They are going to make a documentary film on polio workers from the Kusheshwar Asthan primary health centre in which they would mostly feature Martha Dodarai. At present, I cannot say when the documentary film would be shot.”

Speaking over the phone from Kusheshwar Asthan, around 280km east of Patna, he added: “Martha really deserves this. She has been working in very difficult circumstances but she has never ever complained to us. There are times when other auxiliary nurse midwives associated with the centre complain but she has never. Today you find people lacking in dedication towards their work. Martha is a good example of one’s dedication to work.”

The Telegraph did not get an official confirmation from Unicef about the documentary film.

When Martha was contacted, she said: “Sorry I don’t have any information about the documentary film. But if this is true, it would definitely be a big opportunity for me.”

She added that people started recognising her after she received the United Nations Foundation award and the Florence Nightingale Award conferred by President Pranab Mukherjee earlier this year.

“Now when I go for immunisation work, people ask me if I am the one who received the award from United Nations Foundation. I can see the respect in the eyes of people. This is a big thing for me,” she said with a smile.

For her work in polio eradication, Martha was honoured at the Global Leadership Awards Dinner organised by United Nations Foundation in New York on November 6, 2013.

Martha, who grew up in Latehar (now in Jharkhand), has to cross a river to reach her workplace at Tilakpur, the last village of Darbhanga, because there is no transportation in her village of Kusheswar Asthan. Sometimes she has to row a boat herself when she doesn’t find a boatman. From dense jungles to rivers, she has to cross many hurdles. Still, these do not deter her from working tirelessly to ensure each and every child receives protection from polio.

Health workers like her have been instrumental in achieving the goal of the polio eradication. The World Health Organization (WHO) ticked off India from the list of polio countries in 2012 with the last case being reported from Howrah district of Bengal in January 2011. The last polio case in Bihar was reported from East Champaran district in September 2010.