Islamic scholars to support polio eradication program in Pakistan
Islamic scholars to support polio eradication program in Pakistan
The program in Pakistan is facing serious challenges due to misconceptions from some sections of the population, resulting in assaults against polio eradication workers, some of whom were injured and even killed in some parts of the country.
Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, chancellor of Jamia Haqqani Akora Khattak, who is also chairman of the Pakistan Defense Council and president of the JUI in Pakistan, told Arab News that health is one of the main issues facing the Islamic world, but that there are certain bodies that oppose the steps being taken to solve health problems faced by Muslims at large.
The issue has acquired political dimensions and Muslims have become victims of these political maneuvers, adding that it is necessary to explain to the public that polio is a matter of health and humanity.
He said that scholars discussed ways to address the challenges being faced in some of those areas where they have not been able to reach children for polio vaccination. Most of the scholars from these areas have explained that it is not just an issue of access but a refusal by parents to have their children vaccinated against polio.
The deliberations focused on trying to find a way to involve religious scholars in consultation with local communities to solve this issue of refusal so that vaccination campaigns are successful and that it is possible to eradicate polio from Pakistan.
“The scholars will also be involved in polio vaccination campaigns launched by the government in areas where people have been reluctant,” he said.
Polio is an infectious viral disease which leads to paralysis, difficulty in breathing and even death at any age, especially in children under the age of five. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only remaining polio-endemic countries in the world, requiring concerted efforts to eradicate the disease.
The PEP, supported by an IDB financing of $227 million, in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to vaccinate 34 million children under the age of five against polio with the goal of eradicating the disease by 2016 from Pakistan. The first disbursement of $32 million from IDB was made in early August to the World Health Organization (WHO).
IDB Group Chairman Ahmad Mohamed Ali appreciated the scholars’ participation and stressed the fact that the Bank will spare no efforts to help eradicate serious diseases in its member countries. He also said that “the decision to contribute to polio eradication in Pakistan came in line with the resolutions of the 3rd Extraordinary Session of the Islamic Summit Conference in Makkah in December 2005.”
In a joint statement issued at the end of their deliberations, the scholars said they acknowledged that the challenges facing the PEP in Pakistan are complex and have different social, cultural, religious and political dimensions.
“We appreciate the Islamic Development Bank’s endeavors in supporting the program in Pakistan and pledge our complete commitment to ensure its success”, the statement said.
They strongly denounced the killing of polio eradication workers and stressed that the deaths had no justification from Islamic, moral and humanity aspects. They also denounced the use of polio campaigns and other public health programs related activities for any political, intelligence or any other purpose. They put their full weight behind the recommendations of the Cairo and Islamabad meetings on PEP.
The statement called for enhancing the leadership role of health authorities at the district levels in all aspects of the vaccination campaign, as well as emphasizing the importance of the scholars’ involvement in the program implementation activities through regular consultation. It urged the need for candid dialogue among the various stake-holders. It recommended that arrangements be made for eminent scholars from other member countries to visit Pakistan and give sermons and lectures on the topic to enhance awareness of the importance of polio eradication as a prelude to the health of the Muslim world.
It was also recommended that religious leaders in Pakistan underline the importance of polio vaccination in their Friday sermons.
The statement highlighted the envisaged role of the IDB and the IIFA in organizing an international awareness conference to be attended by the scholars from Pakistan, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Somalia, as well as other member countries of the bank.
Riyadh Eid festivities draw more than 1.5 million visitors
- The diversity of events the municipality provided this year offered plenty of choice to the capital’s residents and visitors.
- The garden of King Fahd Library which received visitors over the three days of Eid witnessed interactive and entertainment shows.
JEDDAH: Riyadh municipality Eid Al-Fitr activities attracted more than 1.5 million visitors, residents and citizens over the three-day holiday.
The diversity of events the municipality provided this year offered plenty of choice to the capital’s residents and visitors.
The municipality hosted 200 functions in 30 different locations across the city. It distributed thousands of presents, balloons and candy to children to encourage them to attend Eid prayers and to bring joy to their hearts.
Riyadh’s Eid festivities in Qasr AL-Hokm included the Saudi traditional folk-dance show, activities and competitions for children, as well as folk arts and poetry shows.
The garden of King Fahd Library which received visitors over the three days of Eid witnessed interactive and entertainment shows, as well as artistic activities and sports competitions.
Riyadh municipality organized five theater shows for men and women, including two for men: Shekka Wa Noss, and Tersam Al-Wahch; two plays for women: Banat Al-Social and Umm Suwaileh Al-Sawaqa, and an open play, Al-Qarya Al-Maghdoura.
Riyadh municipality also organized three theater shows for the blind and deaf.
“Al-Qarya Al-Maghdoura” (The Betrayed Village), the first open-theater show in the Kingdom, was held in the showroom of Al-Jazeera neighborhood. It was written, directed and played by Saudis.
The municipality allocated several events and locations for the participation of humanitarian organizations by receiving them and setting private seats for them, in coordination with the Saudi Association for Deaf.
It also organized a special program to entertain women and children over the three days of Eid. The events for women included plays, free drawing and coloring sessions, artifacts and competitions.
Carnival marches were launched in the north and west of Riyadh, by 300 cartoon characters and featured the participation of touring folk groups, along with a solidarity march with soldiers, as well as classic car shows.
The capital’s residents and visitors enjoyed fireworks that lasted 10 minutes and colored the sky of Riyadh at King Fahd International Stadium, a location near King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) and a location near Wadi Leban Bridge in west Riyadh.