The Islamic Advisory Group for polio eradication concludes its fifth annual meeting with renewed commitment to end polio and expand its mandate to other health priorities.
The Islamic Advisory Group for Polio Eradication (IAG) concluded in its fifth annual meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabic, reaffirming a renewed commitment to continue supporting the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, protecting children against all vaccine preventable diseases and expanding its mandate to support other health priorities in line with OIC health sector agenda.
In a statement issued, IAG also reiterated its trust in the safety and effectiveness of all routine childhood vaccinations as a life-saving tool which protects children, and acknowledged that it conforms to Islamic Shariah. The statement also commended and appreciated the efforts made by the governments, communities, health and front liner workers and parents of polio-infected countries to curb endemic transmission of the disease in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
Sheikh Dr Saleh Bin Abdullah Bin Humaid, President of IIFA and a member of the Council of Senior Scholars reiterated that “the tasks and activities performed by IAG are based on the principles of Shariah and the teachings of Islam as well as the duties the religion calls for in terms of preserving health and saving lives. Religion calls for prevention, avoiding all harms and seeking treatment
The Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif, Professor Saleh Abbas Goma Saleh, Deputy of Al Azhar Al Sharif reiterated “Al Azhar’s firm stance advocating for polio vaccination, especially verses the aberrant fatwas and perverse opinions that attack vaccination in a way that can only be described as a lie to religion. On the ground, estimates and statistics indicate that the incidence of polio has been reduced by more than 99.9 % from 1988 to 2018, and this decline has been made possible only by the tireless efforts of all partners to eradicate this crippling disease.
Dr Shawky Allam, Grand Mufti of Egypt, emphasized that “vaccinating children against polio and other diseases is a religious duty assigned to parents whom they cannot and shouldn’t neglect. Only through vaccination they can protect their children’s health and save their lives.” He added: “We strongly denounce all false fatwas which wrongly claim that vaccination is against the religious teachings and call on those who promote such false allegations to stop causing harm to their children and communities.”
At the end of the meeting IAG members issued a statement urging the Governments of Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan to continue to play their leadership roles at all levels to fully implement national emergency action plans, including by securing the engagement of all Islamic scholars, community leaders and mosque imams.
It noted that the upcoming low poliovirus transmission season in the three countries, which will run from the last quarter of 2018 through the second quarter of 2019, will provide the best opportunity to stop polio, and hence affirmed IAG’s willingness to support all religious scholars, health organizations and Governments in their efforts to interrupt transmission during this period with special focus on high risk communities and regions.