Afghanistan | News | Leading Islamic scholars pledge their support for polio eradication in Afghanistan

Leading Islamic scholars pledge their support for polio eradication in Afghanistan

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Ulama_conferenceOver 100 Islamic scholars attended the conference in KabulInfluential Islamic scholars declared their support for accelerating polio eradication in Afghanistan and called on all parents to vaccinate their children under the age of 5 during all polio vaccination campaigns. The call was made in a declaration issued by the Ulama (religious scholars) as the result of an International Ulama Conference on Polio Eradication held in Kabul on 22–23 February 2016.

“We encourage all families to save their children from all the diseases that will affect their health and to use vaccine for prevention of such diseases. We declare that polio vaccine is allowed religiously, and is fully in accordance with the rulings of Shariah,” the official declaration by the Ulama stated.

WHO supported the conference during which over 100 leading Islamic scholars from various provinces of Afghanistan and other countries convened to discuss strategies to speed up polio eradication in Afghanistan. The event was organized by the Islamic Advisory Group on Polio Eradication (IAG) together with the Government of Afghanistan.

Most of Afghanistan is polio-free but there is still wild poliovirus circulating in parts of the country, particularly in the southern region. As long as polio exists anywhere in Afghanistan, all children are at risk from polio. Religious scholars play a crucial role in accelerating polio eradication and ensuring that more children are reached with vaccines.

“Like other diseases [that] have been eradicated from Earth, we can also eradicate polio. We count on Islamic scholars to inform people and to do effective outreach to protect our children,” said Dr Abdulqahir Qamar from the Islamic Fiqh Academy.

“Effective outreach in communities plays a critical role in polio eradication. We all must be united to protect children from this crippling disease,” said President of Islamic Development Bank Dr Ahmad Mohamed Ali Al-Madani.

The scholars raised their concern over false information spreading in parts of Afghanistan about the polio vaccine, causing some caregivers to refuse immunization for their children. They requested the support of the media and other opinion shapers to assist in dispelling harmful myths around the polio vaccine which is safe and effective.

In the declaration, the Ulama strictly condemn all attacks and aggression toward vaccinators and healthcare workers and highlight the importance of Islamic solidarity for polio eradication at the national and international level.

Read the statement

Statement of International Ulama Conference on Polio Eradication in English 

Statement in Dari

Statement in Pashto

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Key health-related statistics

Population (m) 29.7
Health expenditure (% of GDP) 9.5
Adult (15+) literacy rate (%) 34.8
Life expectancy at birth F/M (2010) 63.2-63.6

Sources: Central Statistics office, Afghanistan National health Accounts, Afghanistan Living Conditions Survey, Afghanistan mortality survey. 

Framework for health information systems and core indicators for monitoring health situation and health system performance, 2018

Afghanistan country health profile

Regional Health Observatory

WHO Afghanistan Programme Overview 

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