The invisible thread that bonds us at work and home
Five years ago, when I started working for PATH, I was just married. I was exhilarated to be part of a globally renowned, knowledgeable rotavirus vaccine clinical operations team. Long before I experienced bringing up my daughters, I was working with this group that had dedicatedly set out to save infants from the fatal rotavirus infection. Some of my colleagues have been working on this for as long as 30 years!
As a mother of two girls - who constantly seem to be going in different directions - getting through each day brings its learnings. There are good days and then there are those very tricky days. As I struggle to strike the right balance among myriad things, I also reflect on my childhood. My brother and I were brought up by working parents without any in-house generational support. The neighborhood in Visakhapatnam (Southern India) was our extended home - in the best sense of the word - where families looked out for each other.
Some days when the girls are actually communicating and managing themselves, I pause to think how quickly time has flown. Ashira, my first born, will be four this month and the ‘I am so innocent’ Adhira is already18 months! I enjoy the good days as the girls are not only stress-busters but stress-givers, too. My daughters are also blessed as they are under the watchful eyes of doting grandparents and their aunt in New Delhi.
My role as a mother and a professional met the day Adhira got her first shot of Rotarix®. However, due to the unavailability of Rotarix® vaccine in the Indian market in 2015, her next dose was Rotateq®. I was completely okay with this, as I knew my daughter was getting a vaccine that could prevent her from having a detrimental diarrhea episode, which is also known to claim the lives of infants in India.
However, this switch in vaccines made me think that even though I was closely working on a future rotavirus vaccine, the current vaccines available in the market were expensive and there are only a few fortunate parents who know about rotavirus and have the means to afford this vaccine. There are millions of parents who do not have information and access to affordable rotavirus vaccines. Even though these preventable vaccines, including an indigenous vaccine, are now available, a very high number of children continue to die in India because of diarrhea.
Working on a project and with people that are trying to address the same problem reminds me of the cutting edge work that PATH is involved in. I know the work we do will give mothers and newborns a fighting chance so that they have the best shot at a healthy life. As we ring in the New Year, I continue to feel very bonded to this team with an invisible thread: determination and perseverance.