Neeta Pokhrel Regmi
Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh
For the last almost two months, Dr. Neeta Pokhrel Regmi drives dozens of kilometers everyday to remote areas near Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar. Her job is to make sure that children of the newly arrived Rohingyas and their host communities are receiving vaccination against life-threatening diseases like diphtheria, polio, measles and cholera. For Dr. Neeta, who was born and did her medical training in Nepal, and has a family including a three –year-old son in Kathmandu, her deployment in the Cox’s Bazar is a sacrifice thats well worth it.
“I want to make sure that no child is left un-vaccinated. Children are very close to my heart probably because I am also a mother,” says Dr. Neeta as she fondly remembers her son. “I do miss my son but work is also important”.
Dr. Neeta has firsthand experience of public health emergency and its impact on families and community, having experienced the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal in 2015, and subsequently working as WHO Emergency District Support (WEDS) officer in Kathmandu.
Whether she is in Cox’s Bazar working with the refugees or back in Nepal, for Dr. Regmi, no child should miss out the life-saving vaccines. After the campaign has officially ended, Dr. Regmi and her team goes to schools, food distribution points, and door to door in communities looking for children who might have been missed. She approaches her public health sleuthing by playing games with the children, just as she would with her own son. After gathering children around her in a circle, she asks which ones have had their fingers marked, and asks them to raise their hands This way she manages to see which child has been missed out and needs to be vaccinated.
Dr Neeta is working as a Surveillance Medical Officer at WHO Nepal - Immunisation Preventable Disease Program. A medial graduate from Nepal Medical College at Kathmandu University and she holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Lunds University, Sweden. She has also worked in rural India, in the state of Haryana, as a medical research fellow.
For Dr. Neeta, the mission is clear: “Vaccination saves lives. Then why should any child miss vaccination.“