Message from the President October 2015

Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease. There is no cure, but there are safe and effective vaccines. The strategy to eradicate polio is therefore based on preventing infection by immunizing every child until transmission stops and the world is polio-free.

Majority of the world, including the Islamic world, is polio-free, with cases of polio down 99% worldwide since 1988. However, this preventable disease continues to afflict children in a few predominantly Muslim majority countries. As of September 2015, only two countries harbor the residual disease - i.e. Pakistan and Afghanistan still pose a challenge and accounts for more than 80% of cases globlly.

In the past year, political and religious leaders in the Muslim world have made significant commitments to eradication. We now have a historic opportunity to build on this leadership to end polio and ensure all children receive life-saving vaccines.

Through the concerted efforts made by WHO, Governments, Health workers, and Muslim NGOs and bodies, there has been a drastic reduction in the spread of this deadly disease. No new case has been reported in Pakistan since the last 65 days and almost the same is true with Afghanistan.

As believers of Islamic rulings, it is our sacred duty to take care of our children and guarantee their right to lead healthy full lives. Allah reminds us that, "Indeed lost are they who have killed their children, from folly, without knowlege, and have forbidden that which Allah has provided for them." (Surat l-anam: verse 140)

As Muslim physicians, it is our responsibility to both provide lifesaving care on the frontlines and advocate for the rights of our communities to have access to quality healthcare. We commit to educating families on the importance and safety of vaccines and to providing unwavering support to polio eradication efforts, which are integral to broader child health improvement.

We call on our leaders and the entire Muslim community to join us in the quest to end preventable child diseases and deaths.

As Muslim physicians and healthcare workers, we urge our Muslim brothers and sisters to support vaccination against polio and commit to protecting our children against all vaccine-preventable diseases.

We call on:
- The governments of all polio-affected countries and their neighbors in the region to strengthen political and financial commitment to ending polio.

- Muslim communities to stand together as a unified front to recognize polio eradication as a priority and sustain support at all levels until eradication is achieved.

- Local leaders, media, educational institutions, and civil society to work to dispel myths and rumors about polio vaccines, disseminate research-based information on the safety of the vaccines to the public and encourage families to seek vaccination services.

- Governments to ensure the safety of polio health workers and provide them security and community support in dispensing their duties to protect all children.

- National and global programs to continue to bridge the delivery of polio vaccines and broader health services to ensure a lasting impact on child health initiatives even after eradication.

The time is now for the entire Muslim community to unite for children's health and seize the urgent opportunity to end polio. We are now very close to ending the Polio from the face of this world, Inshallah we shall witness it very soon.

Dr. Tanveer Zubairi
President, FIMA

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