Islamabad, December 08, 2020:  The Islamic Advisory Group for Polio Eradication has appreciated Pakistan’s resolve and fight to end polio, re-affirming its support towards global polio eradication efforts with a special focus on Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

In a statement released after the virtual conduction of 7th IAG meeting, the IAG urges religious leaders and influential community leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan to fully support ongoing polio eradication efforts and mobilize parents and caregivers in their areas to regularly vaccinate their children against polio as well as other vaccine-preventable diseases. The meeting was held at the General Secretariat of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Jeddah. 

While representing Pakistan at the IAG meeting, the National Coordinator for the polio programme, Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar re-affirmed the strong commitment by the government of Pakistan, to end polio from the country and mentioned that all concrete efforts are being made in this regard. 

Highlighting the key achievements of Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme, Dr Rana shared, “It’s great achievement of the programme to implement successful immunization campaign amid COVID-19 pandemic. Since resumption of the polio vaccination campaigns in July and resumption of essential immunization, the programme has been able to start addressing the immunity gap in children that had been widening.” 

Whilst re-affirming commitment to eradicate polio, the IAG praised Pakistan for its alignment with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Strategic Health Programme of Action and acknowledged the tremendous support during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

His Eminence Sheikh Dr Saleh Bin Abdullah Bin Humaid, President of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy, said that "There is no doubt that implementation of initiatives in the Islamic world and elsewhere to eradicate poliomyelitis and improve mother and child health, among others, has been hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as a result of lockdowns and movements on restrictions; however, we are still hopeful that health awareness has increased among the public and people are now more convinced of the importance of immunization to prevent vaccine-preventable diseases, including polio, measles and rubella. 

In his speech, Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, added to this saying, “We reaffirm our commitment to the eradication of polio from Afghanistan and Pakistan, in which wild poliovirus transmission continues due to the suspension of polio vaccination campaigns because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 response has shown the value of collaboration among countries and stakeholders in sharing information and technology to mitigate the global ramifications of this health crisis.”  



Note for Editor:

The IAG is an Islamic consortium that was established in 2013 between Al Azhar Al Sharif, the International Islamic Fiqh Academy, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), along with other religious scholars and technical experts.

The IAG meetings are held annually to follow up on the activities conducted in countries where polio is still endemic or at risk of re-emerging and support their efforts in addressing religious misconceptions and counter false information regarding polio and other maternal and child health initiatives. 

IAG meeting was attended by the Secretary General of the OIC, Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif, President of the International Islamic Fiqah Academy, President of the Islamic Development Bank, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern  Mediterranean, Chairman of the IAG Executive Committee and NIAG representatives from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia. The meeting was concluded with work plans endorsements for the year 2021. 


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