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National

September 13, 2017

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Islamic scholars reiterate support for polio eradication

Islamic scholars reiterate support for polio eradication

Islamabad: The National Islamic Advisory Group (NIAG) Tuesday reiterated its support for Pakistan’s Polio Eradication Programme with a pledge to eliminate the virus from its core reservoirs.

Members of NIAG core group met at the National Emergency Operations Centre to review national and provincial work plans and bring them in alignment with National Emergency Action Plan 2017-18.

“With only four recorded cases of polio so far this year, it is easy to conclude the worst is over, but for a programme striving to achieve and maintain zero, actually it’s not. The programme’s environmental surveillance network informs us that positive polio sewage samples are still being detected from key hotspots; Karachi, Quetta, Killa Abdullah as well as the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, requiring focused efforts to close any gaps. The importance of sustaining gains made in Khyber-Peshawar will be critical,” the Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq stated in a message.

Ayesha lauded the role of religious scholars in addressing misconceptions from communities, families and parents, and playing a key role in Pakistan’s pursuit to protect its children by reaching and vaccinating missed child.

“Despite the progress made to date in bringing the number of children paralyzed by the poliovirus to a record low, anything less than the protection of every single child in Pakistan from the menace of polio cannot be acceptable,” Ayesha said. “Parents often ask me a question on the number of times a child can be vaccinated. The oral polio vaccine is safe; medically, there’s no limit to how many times you can receive it. Polio invades your child’s body, makes him or her disabled for life, and even kills.

There is no cure from this disease! However, the polio drops are there to protect your child – polio drops are like bricks of a wall, if you want to build a strong wall between your child and the enemy, you need more bricks,” she added.

The Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar highlighted that, “To stamp out polio, we have to block the virus from finding a host – each child, simply put, if not fully vaccinated is at risk – and this also endangers the health of the nation.

Recent cases indicate that the resilient poliovirus has the capability to reach and paralyze our children as long as they are sub-optimally protected either because of refusals or being missed for other reasons. The data clearly indicate that we still have pockets of vulnerable children who could not avail every vaccination opportunity during last year’s campaigns – we must do better in upcoming campaigns or we put our remarkable progress at risk.”

Chair of the core group of NIAG Maulana Hanif Jalandhri, said “Vaccinating children against polio is in accordance with Islamic Shariah and is considered a religious obligation. I am always keen that my grandchildren do not miss their polio drops every time the vaccination teams knock on my door. Our support to the campaign will continue until Pakistan is polio-free and all our children are safe from polio,” Maulana Jalandhri said.

Former federal minister and chair of Polio Plus Ulema Committee, Maulana Hanif Tayyab said, “Our responsibility as religious community leaders is to ensure parents vaccinate their children under the age of five against this debilitating but preventable disease, especially those who have not been vaccinated before or have been missed in the campaign. It is parents’ religious obligation to do so; ignoring this might leave their children paralyzed for life.”

The support of religious leaders has been instrumental in increasing vaccine acceptance and reaching missed children in communities across Pakistan. NIAG was formed in June 2013 on the recommendations of the Islamic Advisory Group. The role of Islamic scholars across Pakistan has been vital in guiding religious leaders of communities across the country on the importance of vaccination, dispelling misconceptions about the vaccine, and build trust among communities.

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