ISLAMABAD, Dec 8 (APP): The Islamic Advisory Group for Polio Eradication (IAG) on Tuesday appreciating the efforts of Pakistan in fight against polio has assured its full support for complete elimination of this crippling disease from the country.
In its 7th annual meeting held at OIC Secretariat at Jeddah, the IAG called upon religious leaders and influential community leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan to fully support ongoing polio eradication efforts and mobilize parents and caregivers to regularly vaccinate their children against polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases.
This year’s IAG meeting, which was held virtually, and organized by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), discussed the persistence of polio virus transmission and protecting children from the crippling disease of polio, says a fax message received here from Jeddah.
Addressing the meeting, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre, Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI), Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar said that Pakistan was successfully running its anti-polio drives to protect children from the disease.
He said “The government is committed to make Pakistan Polio-free. We are determined to close the immunity gap in children which had unfortunately widened because of disruption of essential services due to COVID-19 pandemic.”
He said, “Ensuring timely and repeated vaccination of children is critical for us to reduce the immunity gap and protect them against polio. I am confident, together we will achieve our target of making a safer, healthier and polio-free Pakistan for our children.”
“While continuing our efforts to enhance essential immunization coverage across, the back-to-back planned immunization campaigns are imperative to give quick immunity boost to children under the age of five,” Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar added.
He said “We tried to ensure that no child is missed during every national immunization campaign aimed to build on successful immunity building efforts. It is our national mission and we will continue our efforts to reach every child with essential polio vaccine.”
The Islamic Advisory Group for Polio Eradication (IAG) acknowledged the unprecedented challenges to polio eradication posed by the disruptions to health care delivery, including to routine immunization and polio vaccination campaigns, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IAG noted with concern that children were becoming increasingly vulnerable to polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases and the risk of international spread of poliovirus was increasing.
The IAG leaders commended the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI)’s ‘call to action’ and the commitment of national governments to repurpose polio eradication infrastructure and assets, including health workers, community mobilization networks, disease surveillance and information management systems, as well as the global polio laboratory network to support the COVID-19 response.
The IAG reaffirmed its commitment to the GPEI and praised its alignment with the OIC’s Strategic Health Programme of Action and acknowledged their support to countries during the ongoing pandemic.
The IAG is an Islamic consortium that was established in 2013 between Al Azhar Al Sharif, the International Islamic Fiqh Academy, the OIC and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), and includes other religious scholars and technical experts.