BARMM HEALTH EXECS SECURES ISLAMIC RULING ON IMMUNIZATION
IMMUNIZATION FATWA. Muslim religious leaders sign the "fatwa" on measles immunization during the launching of the Islamic ruling Tuesday (March 12) in Cotabato City. (Photo courtesy of BPI-BARMM)
COTABATO CITY -- The Ministry of Health in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (MO H–BARMM) has secured a “fatwa” (Islamic ruling) Tuesday on efforts to convince mothers of children 0-59 months old to avail of the anti-measles vaccination at health centers across the region.
Dr. Safrullah Dipatuan, BARMM minister of health, said the fatwa was aimed at addressing the refusal or reluctance of parents in the region to have their children vaccinated with anti-measles vaccines due to uncertainty whether it conforms with their Muslim faith or not.
Dipatuan also said the fatwa aims to help promote vaccination to Muslims as a safe and efficient way to prevent common diseases.
The fatwa was approved by 13 Muslim religious leaders of the Regional Darul Ifta through a ceremonial signing held at the Pagana Convention Center here prior to the official launching on the same day.
"Immunization prevents deaths and suffering from vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, tetanus, polio, pneumonia, hepatitis, diphtheria, rubella, and mumps," Dipatuan said.
He stressed that saving lives is a holy act that "we must do as an act of faith."
Data from MOH-BARMM indicated that as of March 10, about 45,598 infants and children were already administered with anti-measles across the region.
It said measles cases in the region decreased to 361 confirmed cases this year as compared to 1,260 cases during the same period last year.
With support from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Dr. Zul Qarneyn Abas, MOH deputy minister, said their office has asked the Regional Darul Ifta to come up with the fatwa after discovering that many of the parents in the region were hesitant about the vaccination drive.
In September last year, the MOH and UNICEF conducted two conferences -- one for the island provinces and another for the mainland provinces -- concerning the fatwa on the legitimacy of vaccination based on evidence found in the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah.
Abas assured that immunization is permissible from the Islamic perspective noting that "the vaccines are halal."
For his part, Farid Dastgeer, UNICEF child protection specialist, said during the launching that “the best gift we can give to our child is a full immunization certificate.”
With the fatwa on immunization, the MOH-BARMM hopes to increase the immunization rates in the BARMM comprising the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi; the cities of Cotabato, Marawi and Lamitan, and the 63 villages in North Cotabato. (PNA)