Islamabad-Islamic Advisory Group (IAG) for polio eradication expressed concerns on the persistence of poliovirus circulation in pockets of the country because of parental refusals, statement said on Saturday.

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

The meeting was held in Cairo by Dr Ahmed El-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif, and co-chaired by Dr Saleh Bin Abdullah Bin Humaid, President of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA).

In a statement issued, the IAG noted with concern the persistence of poliovirus circulation in pockets of missed children in Afghanistan and Pakistan and that some of those children are missed due to the refusal of the family or parents.

IAG called upon all parents to immunise their children against polio and all other vaccine-preventable diseases for the health of their community as guided by the teachings of Islam.

President of the IsDB, Mohamed Al-Austa spoke of the financial support being provided to polio-endemic countries to help them finally eradicate polio.

He said that challenges facing polio eradication require more efforts and further coordination among all stakeholders to control the situation and resume the vaccination campaigns.

The IsDB has endorsed a new US$100 million fund to support the polio programme in Pakistan, bringing the financial support provided by the bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to US$427 million.

Director of Programme Management Dr Rana Al-Hajjeh mentioned the significance of this moment in polio eradication history.

She said in the past, around 1,000 children worldwide were infected by polio every day.

Yet, with the development of a safe vaccine that can be used to immunise every child, we have succeeded in bringing a 99.9 per cent decline in the number of polio cases, resulting in more than 18 million people walking today who would have otherwise been paralysed by polio.

“The persistence of polio cases in Afghanistan and Pakistan raises our concern for the children of those countries who have the right to be protected from this crippling disease just like other children around the world,” she said.

The IAG also expressed concern over the ban on vaccination activities in parts of Afghanistan and urged the concerned parties to facilitate these activities for the safety of all children.

The group in its sixth annual meeting held reaffirmed its commitment towards global polio eradication efforts and reiterated its trust in the safety and effectiveness of the poliovirus vaccine as a preventative and life-saving tool that protects children.

Secretary General of the Islamic Research Institute Dr Nazeer Mohamed Ayyad said on this occasion polio eradication is one of the critical health issues upon which the future of communities and countries is based.

He said its importance is attributed to the fact that it shows deep relationship between religion and science. Religious scholars realised early on the link between Shariah teachings and medicine, as both aim to serve humanity, fight disease and enhance the well-being of all people.