Ulema of Afghanistan and Pakistan Appeal to Governments, Parents & Care-Givers to Ensure Poliovirus Immunization of Children

The Ulema of Afghanistan and Pakistan gathered in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman on 14- 15 April 2019 to support the efforts towards protecting children from lifelong polio paralysis and in partnership with the Islamic Advisory Group (IAG).

As per the statement released by the Ulema, it was announced that they not only acknowledge
and fully support IAG’s expanded mandate into other maternal and child health priorities, but they also
affirming that safeguarding the health and well-being of children is the responsibility of all religious, community and political leaders, and of parents and care-givers.

The statement underlined that vaccinating children is a moral and religious obligation, and not allowing or not vaccinating even a single child is a serious deviation from this important collective obligation.

Polio is a devastating disease that leaves affected children paralyzed and disabled for the rest of their lives, and the statement affirmed that polio vaccines are not only the most effective way to immunize children from the virus but also is an absolutely safe method.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only two countries in the world where children are still paralysed by wild poliovirus and the persistence of polio transmission is a common challenge to both countries.

It was noted that some parents, guardians and caregivers continue to neglect the importance of the poliovirus vaccine or refuse to immunize their wards due to religious superstitions.

The Ulema of the two countries declared and re-affirmed their commitment and responsibility to the protection of children against all vaccine-preventable diseases and
reiterated their trust in the safety, purity and effectiveness of all routine childhood vaccinations as life-saving tools that protect children and as conforming to Islamic Shariah.

They also condemned he attacks launched against health workers, and said that such violence contravenes Islamic teachings and human values. The statement demanded that governments, local societies, civil societies and religious organizations extend all necessary assistance to ensure the safety and security of all health workers.

The Ulema appealed to all the religious leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan to provide strong support for health workers to access all areas and encourage parents to facilitate the vaccination of their children particularly in the hard-to-reach and difficult-to-access areas, and among mobile population groups.

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