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PostPosted: October 2nd, 2018, 2:51 pm 
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With some khateebs witnessing first-hand the effects of travel restrictions owing to epidemics after they were subject to mandatory vaccination when they travelled to Saudi Arabia earlier this year, religious scholars and clerics across the province have vowed to play their part in the immunisation campaign.
“It was quite embarrassing that only one country faces travelling restrictions and that only Pakistanis were administered anti-polio drops, and that too the moment you land in another country [referring to his recent tour of Saudi Arabia],” said Mufti Shaukat Ali while addressing a meeting between representatives of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) and religious scholars.
Religious scholars from across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), mostly khateebs, promised to play their role in making the anti-measles drive a success by using their access to the public and influence to sensitive the public on the importance of vaccination against measles and all other Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (VPD).
Mufti Ali further held that it was the duty of religious scholars to assist the government in the matter since it was a health issue and involved the future of our children.
He added that those parents who turn vaccination away must be educated about the importance of the vaccine in accordance with the teachings enshrined in Islam.
“This is the moment to discuss [importance of immunization and vaccination against different diseases including polio] from the mimbar and mehrab (pulpit) and restore the public trust in what the government has been trying to do for the kids,” Ali stated.
Speakers during the meeting acknowledged that there had been propaganda against different vaccines in the past which turned out to be false.
They added that despite being one of the most criticized [anti-polio vaccine] campaigns, it had proven to be successful in protecting children from lifelong paralysis.
They reiterated the role they had played in the past to make the polio immunization programme a success, helping bring down the number of cases reported, from 306 in 2014 to just four so far in 2018
Health experts in the meeting stated that while they had made progress against polio, measles was still infecting thousands of children every year with over 80 per cent of the infected below five-years-of-age.
Just like the ones for polio, massive anti-measles campaigns could help prevent the disease and save the lives of hundreds of children.
In this regard, the health experts stressed the need for sensitizing parents, telling them how important it was to vaccinate children against the killer disease.
K-P Health Services Director-General Dr Ayub Roz said that the government had completed its preparations for the next immunization campaign. He added that they had increased the number of vaccination by 150 to raise the total figure to 3,300.
However, he said that there was a critical role which religious scholars need to play.
“People believe what our religious leaders say. And if religious leaders support us in this cause, I believe we will have a very successful programmer,” Dr Roz said, adding that they were holding the anti-measles campaign at this scale after four years for which all stakeholders including religious scholars have been taken on board.
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