ISLAMABAD: With Pakistan on the verge of eradicating the polio virus from the country, misconceptions regarding the vaccine being haram is still one of the bigger hurdles in the way of anti-polio campaigns.

A large number of people refuse to vaccinate their children because they consider doing so haram and attacks on polio workers are also often motivated by such misconceptions.

The government and donor agencies have taken a number of steps in order to remove this misconception, according to an official of the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS), who requested to not be named.

“We even conducted laboratory tests on all the vaccines that are used in polio campaigns last year in order to confirm that they were not haram. The ministry has also prepared answers to frequently asked question in order to convince people,” he said.

“The number of polio cases has reduced from 306 in 2014 to only 15 this year. We believe we can completely eradicate the virus but we still have to convince people that the vaccines are not prohibited in Islam,” he said.

In order to observe World Polio Day on Oct 24, the National Islamic Advisory Group (NIAG) Pakistan issued a statement urging religious leaders and communities to protect and cooperate with vaccination teams who are trying to administer the vaccine to every child.

NIAG was constituted in June 2013 and the International Islamic University Islamabad is serving as its secretariat.

In the statement, NIAG appreciated the efforts of polio teams and says it supports polio workers who put their lives at risk in order to administer the vaccine. A number of verses from the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are also included in the statement to convince people that the vaccines are not haram and urge them to support the anti-polio drive.

Though there was always confusion and controversy regarding polio and other vaccines in Pakistan but since Pakistani physician Shakil Afridi helped the CIA track down Osama Bin Laden in 2011 by conducting a fake hepatitis vaccine programme, the controversy has increased. In June 2012, the Taliban enforced a ban on polio vaccines in Fata and people also started refusing to vaccinate their children, arguing that the vaccines were haram.

Pakistan is one of the three countries, other than Afghanistan and Nigeria, in which polio cases are still reported. Due to the presence of the virus in the country, the Independent Monitoring Board for Polio which works on behalf of international donor agencies and issues bi-annual reports of various countries, recommended in November 2012 that travel restrictions be imposed on Pakistan, which was implemented on May 5, 2014.

Due to the restriction, Pakistan is bound to ensure that each person going out of the country should have had polio drops.

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2016

Most Popular

01

02

03

04

05

06

07

08

09

Opinion

A decade of change & stagnation
Updated 20 Sep 2021

A decade of change & stagnation

Over a decade, three more women out of 100 aged between 19 and 39 have acquired college degrees, compared to only two more men.
All about life
Updated 20 Sep 2021

All about life

There is no shortage of issues on which the Single National Curriculum has stirred controversy.
‘Honourable men’
20 Sep 2021

‘Honourable men’

Is it ambition to support our athletes only after they bring us glory?
Concerns of proxy wars
Updated 19 Sep 2021

Concerns of proxy wars

A lobby in the US favours a plan for proxy warfare so that America can sustain its global influence.

Editorial

20 Sep 2021

Banking for women

AS the old adage goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. How far the new State Bank initiative —...
Off the red list
Updated 20 Sep 2021

Off the red list

There are aspects of coronavirus management, especially by developed nations towards those less so, that smack of discrimination.
20 Sep 2021

Exciting frontiers

HISTORY was made on Wednesday at the Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral. It was not the launch of the first, or...
Talking to the Taliban
Updated 19 Sep 2021

Talking to the Taliban

PRIME Minister Imran Khan has announced that he has started a dialogue with the Taliban for the formation of a...
New Zealand’s departure
Updated 19 Sep 2021

New Zealand’s departure

THERE was chaos and despair when New Zealand decided to call off their tour of Pakistan barely minutes before the...
19 Sep 2021

Crucial polio campaign

THE national vaccination campaign that kicked off in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Friday is being described by experts as...