The Islamic Advisory Group for Polio Eradication (IAG) Thursday launched a new training manual for students of religious studies in support of polio eradication efforts. The manual provides practical guidance on how to engage with local communities to advocate for vaccination as well as other maternal and child health issues. The launch took place during the group’s fourth annual meeting that convened at the headquarters of Al Azhar Al Sharif hosted by Grand Imam Dr Ahmed El-Tayyib, says a message received here from Cairo.
The Grand Imam expressed his happiness to see the progress achieved to eradicate polio in a satisfactory and reassuring manner, saying, ‘As Muslims we shouldn’t still be discussing a subject that has already been settled a long time ago.’ He asserted Al Azhar Al Sharif’s continued support and announced that the Publishing and Translation Department of Al Azhar will translate the training manual into 20 languages. IAG leaders thanked the health workers and Islamic scholars who are helping the world realize its goal of eradicating polio once and for all.
They also recognized the remarkable leadership provided by the Governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan and the commitment of their fellow OIC Member States in maintaining adequate support. Dr Shawky Allam, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, also commended the contribution of the IAG to polio eradication efforts by addressing religious-based refusals on the ground. In the past few years, polio eradication efforts have been hindered in some areas of Muslim countries due to misperceptions about the vaccine and the lack of safe access to children. While levels of vaccine refusal are low, they are persistent in certain areas – the very places to which the trained students belong. Hatem El-Khodary delivered the address of WHO Acting Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, Dr Jaouad Mahjour, in which he commended the work of the IAG and its national affiliates in Afghanistan and Pakistan in supporting the efforts of the national governments and their implementing partners.
‘Islam strongly advocates the preservation and protection of children’s health and well-being,’ he said. ‘Countless prominent Islamic scholars, including those gathered under the IAG banner, have repeatedly confirmed this and have urged Muslim parents and influencers to ensure the immunization of all children.’ Dr Abdelqahir Qamar, Director of the Fatwa Department at the Jeddah-based International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA), affirmed that the work of the IAG to protect the lives of children follows what Islam commands its followers. The launch of the training manual follows IAG’s efforts to prepare students of religious studies at key universities in predominantly Muslim countries to act as advocates for critical health initiatives particularly in high-risk areaswhere marginalized and underserved populations reside.—APP