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Polio eradication: Afghan-Pak scholars meet in Muscat

Polio eradication: Afghan-Pak scholars meet in Muscat

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Apr 14, 2019 - 20:41

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): After recommendations from the Fifth Annual Islamic Advisory Group meeting on polio eradication in November 2018, the first ever Afghanistaninfo-icon-Pakistaninfo-icon Joint Ulemainfo-icon Conference started in Muscat, the capital of Oman.

Eminent and leading scholars from both the countries have come together to present a unified voice of support for polio vaccines and eradication efforts.

The opening session began with recitation of verses from the Holy Qur'an by Dr Mohammad Wessam Abbas Khedr, Head of Written Fatwainfo-icon Department at Dar Al-Ifta of Egypt.

Dr Darwish Al Maharbi, Undersecretary for Administrative and Financial Affairs, Ministry of Healthinfo-icon, Oman, welcomed participants to the conference.

“Children are precious in the eyes of Islam, which requires us to protect them and take care of them,” said Sheikh Dr Kahlan Al Kharusi, Assistant Grand Mufti of Oman.

Thirty Islamic scholars from Afghanistan and Pakistan joined scholars of the Islamic Advisory Group to discuss polio eradication.

“The family bears the responsibility of proper upbringing of, and caring for children and maintaining their health. It is disturbing to see parents neglect their responsibilities and leave their sons or daughters at risk of illness and disability,” said deputy of Al Azhar Al Sharif, Dr Saleh Abbas Goma Saleh.

Dr Saleh said “Al Azhar Al Sharif’s Islamic Research Academy and the International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA) had authorized countries and governments to require people’s use of preventive immunization as a means of stopping epidemics and preventing their spread.

The Secretariat of the Academy denounced those fatwas prohibiting vaccinations and called upon preachers and imams to invite people to welcome vaccination campaigns.

Dr Saleh said: "We pray to hear of the eradication of polio soon, with the will of God."

WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari said: “Today we stand at a historic crossroads. For just the second time ever, humankind is poised to completely eradicate a disease from the face of the Earth.”

“In the past, around 1000 children around the worldinfo-icon were infected by the disease every day. But with the development of a safe vaccine that was used to vaccinate every child worldwide, we have succeeded in bringing polio to the brink of eradication," Al-Mandhari added.

He said only nine polio cases surfaced so far this year: three in Afghanistan and six in Pakistan.

“Islamic scholars met in March 2013 in Cairo, Egypt to support the fight against polio and recommend a way forward to correct religious misperceptions about the vaccine," said Dr Yagoub Al Mazrou, Chairman of the IAG Executive Committee.

Islamic scholars established the IAG to provide support to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in Muslim countries by raising community awareness about the compliance of vaccines with Islamic Shariahinfo-icon, addressing concerns and misperceptions, and facilitating access to vaccinate all children," says Dr Yagoub Al Mazrou, Chairman of the IAG Executive Committee.

Maulana Muhammad Hanif Jallandhri, Nazim Aala Wifaq ul Madarris and member of the National Islamic Advisory Group in Pakistan, updated the participating scholars on the progress with polio eradication efforts in his country, and urged them to continue their hard work.

Mufti Ehsanul Haqq Hanafi, Member of Darul Ifta Supreme Court and of the National Islamic Advisory Group in Afghanistan, called upon those scholars rejecting polio vaccine to reconsider their stance for the sake of protecting children's health.

"We have a great challenge to eradicate polio, but it is not an impossible mission and we put our trust in the eminent scholars of Afghanistan and Pakistan to help us achieve this goal from these last remaining endemic countries," says Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, Regional Director of WHO/EMRO.

"The Islamic Development Bank continues to support polio eradication efforts and looks forward to see the end of the disease by next year with the help of the Islamic scholars," says Dr El Bashier Sallam, Lead Health Specialist at the Islamic Development Bank.
"At the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation we believe that Ulema have an important role to play in maternal and child health. They have the mandate from the Qur'an and prophetic Sunnah, as well as the presence on the ground among the people and their congregations," says Mr Abdunur Sekindi, Professional Officer, Department of Science and Technology, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

pk/ma

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