ISLAMABAD: The Islamic Ideology Council (IIC) has validated around a hundred fatwas, also known as religious edicts, in support of polio vaccination, generating hopes that religious resistance against vaccines will decrease.
According to an IIC document available with Dawn, the main body of the council unanimously decided to ratify fatwas by ulema in support of polio eradication.
The document said that the IIC was concerned that Pakistan would face travel restrictions due to polio cases and that it could face more financial problems in the future, as such restrictions could be increased.
Babar Bin Atta, the prime minister’s focal point in polio, said Dawn This was the first time the government tried to seek the help of the IIC to control the polio virus.
Focal person in polio says the council was contacted to validate edicts after public questions about their authenticity
“Since 2014, rejections against the polio vaccine began to increase religiously because the polio program began to gain weight from religious scholars, mothers and even Al-Azhar University in Cairo [stating] that the vaccine is not against Islam, "he said, adding that the investigation was also carried out at the National Institute of Health to show that the vaccine is halal.
“However, the department used to face problems regarding the authenticity of those fatwas. Many people, especially in social networks, used to ask what the IIC's position on those fatwas was. Then we approached the IIC and asked him to validate the fatwas. The fatwas were given by different sects and institutions. It was strange that no one had approached the IIC in this matter, ”he said.
Atta hopes that this development will help reduce the number of rejections during the next polio vaccination campaign in the low transmission season, which will begin on November 4.
The poliovirus becomes less active in the winter, which facilitates its eradication. That is why winter is known as the low transmission season.
The president of the IIC, Dr. Qibla Ayaz, said Dawn that, according to their information, about 30 percent of polio vaccination refusals are made for religious reasons, while the remaining 70 percent is for political or other reasons.
"Although Shakil Afridi [who helped the United States Central Intelligence Agency find Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad] He implemented a hepatitis vaccine program, after he increased resistance to the polio vaccine. In addition, rejections increased again this year due to propaganda against the vaccine by a school in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, ”he said.
In April of this year, during a national polio vaccination campaign, students from a school in Mashokhel were taken to the Hayatabad Medical Complex in Peshawar on the grounds that they had an adverse reaction to the polio vaccine.
It was later revealed that the incident had been organized against the vaccination campaign, and all the children were unharmed. Some suspects were arrested, and one even apologized and took the vaccine to prove it was not harmful.
Dr. Ayaz said the IIC will continue to support the polio program and will be ready to play its part in reducing rejections.
"Even Nigeria has controlled the poliovirus and now there are only two countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, in which the poliovirus still exists. I hope that, due to the validation of fatwas by the IIC, parents begin to vaccinate their children. We are ready record videos of our members to show that the IIC is in favor of polio vaccination, "he said.
A total of 72 cases of polio have been reported so far this year; 53 of KP, eight of Sindh, six of Balochistan and five of Punjab.
Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by the poliovirus that primarily affects children under five. It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death. While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from the disease.
Every time a child under five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus increases. Repeated vaccines have protected millions of children against polio, allowing almost every country in the world to become polio free.
Posted on Dawn, October 15, 2019