Religious leaders from across Africa gathered in Dakar, Senegal from the 24th – 25th of March 2014 to issue a declaration calling for all children to be immunized against resurgent polio in some parts of Africa.The Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) was represented at the conference by Secretary General Dr. Mustafa Y. Ali. The GNRC will be actively engaged at the grassroots level in the implementation of the strategies agreed on at the Dakar Conference.
With the goal of addressing the misunderstandings in African societies, and beyond, of immunization and vaccination, as well as to ensure that all children are immunized from birth, the conference declaration was issued under the leadership of President of the Republic of Senegal H. E. Macky Sall, government representatives, UNICEF, and various non-governmental and faith-based organizations.
H.E. Abdul Aziz Sy, the Chief Religious Leader in Senegal, urged religious leaders and elders from across Africa to widely disseminate to all families the message that children should be vaccinated and immunized. Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Bayya stated that Islam gives preference to prevention, and therefore immunizing children is preferable and recommended highly.
President of Senegal Macky Sall thanked the religious scholars in Africa for attending and encouraging prevention and research, thus saving lives, especially those of children. This, the President stated, would help contribute to attaining the Millennium Development Goals.
Countries that have succeeded in their polio eradication efforts have done so through the application of consistent and comprehensive eradication strategies, administration of vaccines and, even more importantly, through broad-based financial, political and religious support. The same efforts need to be incorporated by those countries that are still struggling with efforts to eradicate the disease to create a world free of polio.
The conference was endorsed by UNICEF, IIPC, the Global Center for Renewal and Guidance, the Islamic Society of North America, and the Government of Senegal. Spearheaded by religious leaders and likeminded organizations, a strategy was developed to implement the declaration.