Islamabad: Influential Muslim clerics and scholars from across Pakistan and abroad attended a conference here aimed at bringing together the religious leaders and apprise them about the challenges of polio eradication, including mis-information spread in the name of religion.
The purpose of the two-day International Ulema Conference on Polio Eradication was to bring together the religious leaders and apprise them about the challenges of polio eradication in Pakistan, particularly with respect of mis- information in the name of religion that the vaccine is harmful.
The Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the Pakistan government and members of the International Islamic Advisory Group (IAG) on Polio Eradication organised the international conference that ended yesterday.
Among the speakers and participants to the conference were Islamic scholars from Pakistan, Somalia and Nigeria - three countries where polio remains endemic.
"The International Ulama Conference on Polio Eradication is an effort from the Muslim Ummah to expedite and successfully achieve the Global Goal of Eradicating Polio by the end of 2015," said IDB President Ahmad Mohamed Ali.
"I am happy that reputable Muslim organizations like the OIC, Al-Azhar University, the IFA in partnership with IDB have come together to address this issue," he added.
He said the meet was an excellent platform for Islamic scholars, healthcare professionals and policy makers to find a common ground on how to eradicate polio from the remaining Polio endemic countries.
The participants discussed how to eliminate the concerns of clerics and ensure them that polio vaccine is not harmful.
For many years, the Taliban and some clerics had been claiming that polio vaccination was a conspiracy to suppress Muslim population growth.
Some extremist elements have even justified killing polio workers while accusing them of being "agents of the West".
The conference also discussed guidance on strategies that can effectively overcome current situation and political challenges to polio eradication in Pakistan.
According to the World Health Organisation, 80,000 children in Pakistan have not been immunised against polio.
The Jeddah-based IDB is an international financial institution established in pursuance of the Declaration of Intent issued by the Conference of Finance Ministers of Muslim countries.