Islamabad - The National Action Plan and role of religious scholars have a major impact in reaching out to the children, who were inaccessible to polio teams, in security compromised areas of the country.

Muhammad Ayub Sheikh, federal secretary of ministry of national health services, regulations and coordination, said the role of Haji Hanif Tayyab and other Islamic scholars is laudable in advocating the right of children to protection against polio. He emphasised that advocacy by religious leaders can play a major role in furthering this noble cause. He expressed these views while addressing Polio Orientation & Health Awareness Workshop of Ulema (religious scholars) held here at a local hotel. The purpose of the workshop was to involve religious stakeholders for polio orientation & health awareness to increase coverage of polio vaccination and reaching to refusals and missed children in difficult parts of the country. The workshop was attended by 82 religious scholars from different religious sects and representatives of ministry of health, National EOC, UNICEF and WHO.

The secretary health expressed the commitment to make all-out efforts for complete eradication of polio from Pakistan. He said the national action plan of the government has a major impact in reaching the inaccessible children to security compromised areas of the country. He said everyone including religious leaders, civil society, government functionaries opinion leaders and parents will have to play their role to defeat polio.

Haji Muhammed Hanif Tayyab, Chair Pakistan Polio Plus Ulema Committee, said all religious scholars agree in principle and as per the Islamic point of view that polio vaccination does not harm children, it is safe and approved by the Organisation of Islamic Council (OIC). He elaborated on each decision taken in the Islamabad Declaration, and quoted that Islam has stressed the health of a child is the prime responsibility of all parents. Therefore as per Islamic rules it becomes responsibility of all to provide full vaccination to their children to save them from diseases and ill-health.

The national chair Pakistan Polio Plus Committee (PNPPC), Aziz Memon spoke on Rotary’s objective and mission to eradicate polio worldwide. He mentioned 80 percent reduction in polio cases in 2015 as compared to cases reported in 2014. “Now we are much closer to kick out polio from our country and therefore extra efforts are imperative through our learned religious scholars at district, union council and grassroots level communities to address especially Pashtun communities migrating from South Waziristan to other parts of the country through border areas of KP and Balochistan.”

Commenting on important role of the religious scholars , he said that all religious scholars must spread the message to other scholars and clerics in mosques and seminaries to allow vaccinators to administrate polio drop to children and save them from this crippling disease which has no treatment.

Relentless efforts by Rotary Pakistan have been made through projects to support the eradication of polio in all the four provinces. Recently Rotary has established nine permanent transit posts at Punjab and KP border areas.

On this occasion, National Coordination of Emergency Operation Cell, Rana Safdar highlighted achievements of eradication of polio from the country. He said that polio cases have decreased 82 percent whereas the presence of polio virus in environmental samples decreased from 54 percent to 19 percent.