In Zimbabwe, the measles outbreak has killed about 157 children and infected more than 2,000 people following the refusal by some religious sects to be vaccinated.
The Health officials under the country’s health ministry who disclosed this to reporters said the government, however, has planned to have all children vaccinated before the resumption of schools in early September.
Also, Zimbabwe’s information minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, said the infectious viral disease – which causes a fever and a red rash – was rampant in Manicaland province, which borders Mozambique.
She said, “1,270 cases and 122 deaths had been recorded in the province as of Tuesday”.
“All the victims had not received vaccinations against measles. The government has invoked Civil Protection Unit Act to deal with the emergency, and the Ministry of Health and Child Care is on the ground carrying out an intensive vaccination program. Cabinet has directed the Ministry of Health and Child Care to engage traditional and faith leaders for their support on the vaccination program”.
Further, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Local Government, July Moyo said, “The government is trying to vaccinate all children between 6 to 15 years old with the help of U.N. agencies such as UNICEF and the World Health Organization”.
The local government minister also added that the goal is to finish the vaccinations as soon as possible.
In his words, “The Civil Protection Unit met to analyze what has to be done. What they are sure of is that this spread (of measles) now needs to be tackled as an emergency. We have now mobilized resources to ensure the children are vaccinated before schools open. This July and August, we have a lot of churches that assemble and we think that is the way this measles can be spread so we are targeting those so that they can be vaccinated.”
President of the Zimbabwe College of Public Health Physicians, Dr Cleopphas Chimbetete even affirmed that government must continue to talk to religious leaders of sects that do not believe in vaccination to prevent more measles outbreaks.
“This is the second one and it’s sad because measles is one of the vaccine-preventable diseases of childhood… Such an outbreak shows that things really are not functioning as they should in terms of our public health system… In this case, you realize that the majority of children being affected belong to a certain sect and sadly this sect does not consent to vaccination of children”.
But it would be recalled that a previous measles outbreak in Manicaland province in May affected 137 people and caused about 20 deaths.