Pakistan’s top Islamic scholars reiterate support for polio eradication efforts
ISLAMABAD: On the eve of World Polio Day this year, the National Islamic Advisory Group for Polio Eradication (NIAG) paid special tribute to all of Pakistan’s valiant Sehat Muhafiz who are setting an inspiring example for dedication on the front lines in the fight against polio.
Pakistan stands on the brink of ending the scourge of polio and Sehat Muhafiz are leading the charge.
“What all these 250,000 men and women have in common is commitment. By vaccinating every child and ensuring that no child is missed, they are building community immunity — a critical step on the road to eradication,” said Dr Sohail Hassan, Director of the Dawah Academy at International Islamic University and Chairman of National Islamic Advisory Group.
Maulana Hanif Jalandhry, General Secretary of Wifaq-Ul-Madaris Pakistan and President of NIAG Core Group said, “With courage and perseverance, our Sehat Muhafiz, supported by more than 1,000 religious support persons, travel the length and breadth of the country to educate their communities, spread awareness about the compliance of the polio vaccine with Islamic Sharia and vaccinate children to make polio a history in Pakistan.”
“We call on all parents to vaccinate their children against this debilitating but preventable disease,” said NAIG member and Chairman of the Rotary Ulama Committee Haji Hanif Tayyab.
Maulana Sami Ul Haq, NIAG member and Head of Jamia Haqqania Akora Khattak, said, “It is every individual’s duty to protect themselves and their communities from diseases. Believing in rumours and depriving our children of their right to good health is not only sinful, but also believing in falsehood.”
Although there is no cure for polio, the virus can be prevented and eliminated through immunization. As long as the purpose of vaccination is the welfare of people and the substance used to make vaccines was uncontaminated and not forbidden, it is therefore “acceptable to Sharia” – or Islamic law. All parents are called on to step forward and allow their children under the age of five to be vaccinated against polio every time the vaccine is offered.
To fulfil our national promise of a polio-free Pakistan to future generations, NIAG calls upon all learned religious leaders to continue enlightening our communities about the rights of children to the best start in life and protection against polio and all other childhood diseases.
“Crippled children lead to a crippled Muslim Ummah. May Allah protect our children from all harm and bring them up to be healthy and productive members of the Ummah they deserve to be,” said NIAG Chairman Dr. Sohail Hassan.
Every year on the World Polio Day on October 24, the world is reminded that a disease that has paralyzed and killed children for thousands of years still remains among us. While most of the world is polio-free, Pakistan, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria, remain the last three countries where the polio virus still circulates, threatening the well-being and future of children.
Only a few years ago, polio eradication in Pakistan was hindered due to misperceptions and lack of safe access to children by vaccination teams. The Pakistan polio programme has come a long way.
The progress achieved since the beginning of 2015 is now clearly visible in the declining number of wild poliovirus cases
From 306 in 2014 the number of cases declined to 54 in 2015, and 20 in 2016. So far in 2017 the total number of cases reported stands at five, compared to 16 this time last year.
The National Islamic Advisory Group for Polio Eradication (NIAG) Pakistan works to ensure local religious leaders in Pakistan are fully sensitized to the importance of polio eradication and the unique role they can play in protecting Pakistani children from this terrible and preventable disease.
The group was constituted under the leadership of International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI), in collaboration with key Islamic institutions in the country and the Islamic Advisory Group for Polio Eradication (IAG) that was set up under the leadership of Al-Azhar Al Sharif of Egypt, the Saudi-based International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA), the Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).