Jakarta – The Aceh branch of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has emphasized its support for the government's measles and rubella (MR) immunization drive in the conservative Muslim province.
"Immunization has many benefits and can save lives," Aceh MUI executive Abd. Rahman said at an inter-ministry coordination meeting in Banda Aceh on Wednesday. "MUI is obligated to help all programs that have a noble purpose, especially immunization, which is one of the keys to public health."
He added that the central MUI had issued a fatwa declaring that the MR vaccine was mubah (permitted for Muslims) despite containing materials derived from pigs, because of the necessity of preventing an MR epidemic.
"I have seen for myself young mothers whose babies have become deaf, blind from cataracts and suffer from leaky hearts and shrunken brains," he said. "I do not dare to take the responsibility in front of Allah if I deny that this is an emergency situation and do nothing to prevent it."
The Health Ministry has set a target of 95 percent MR immunization coverage in the second phase of the program, held in August to September. Aceh is the province with the lowest coverage rate so far, with only 4.94 percent or 76,461 children vaccinated out of its target of 1.5 million.
"Effective immunization can provide immunity for children and if 95 percent coverage is achieved there will be herd immunity," Aceh health agency head Hanif said. "This is very important because measles and rubella spreads very easily through the air." (kmt/ahw)