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Zimbabwe’s measles outbreak claims nearly 700 lives

Zimbabwe’s measles outbreak claims nearly 700 lives


Zimbabwe is struggling to contain a measles epidemic that has killed nearly 700 people, mostly children and adolescents.

The Zimbabwean government announced Tuesday that thousands of people have contracted measles and 698 have died, most of them children, since an outbreak in April.

Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health has blamed several religious denominations for the outbreak. Some religious groups and traditional leaders oppose vaccination.

Since then, health officials have struggled to contain a contagious viral disease that causes rashes, coughs, high fevers and can be fatal to unvaccinated children.

The entrance to Mvuluwi Hospital, about 100 km north of Harare, on September 6, 2022. The facility is he one of Zimbabwe's government agencies that administers vaccination against measles.  (Columbus Mahunga/VOA)

The entrance to Mvuluwi Hospital, about 100 km north of Harare, on September 6, 2022. The facility is he one of Zimbabwe’s government agencies that administers vaccination against measles. (Columbus Mahunga/VOA)

“Measles is a highly contagious disease that spreads when the number of unvaccinated children crosses a dangerous threshold,” said Alex, head of the World Health Organization in Zimbabwe. Gasarira said. “So what is happening in Zimbabwe right now is that the number of unvaccinated children is increasing due to several factors: communities unwilling to vaccinate children, chaos, Etc. [of] Immunization services due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic. “

Zimbabwe’s rising death toll has prompted calls for compulsory vaccination to stop the virus, but experts say the effort must be well organized. increase.

Tinashe Mundawalala of the Zimbabwe Health Law and Policy Consortium said: “Compulsory immunization must be well planned and cover all children in this country.” It will be so.”

Babies receive vitamin A supplements as part of efforts to keep children healthy and disease-free.  (Columbus Mahunga/VOA)

Babies receive vitamin A supplements as part of efforts to keep children healthy and disease-free. (Columbus Mahunga/VOA)

Zimbabwe’s health authorities have not yet mandated measles vaccination and were unable to immediately comment.

However, we are campaigning for all children between the ages of 6 and 15 to be vaccinated, and we are working with aid organizations such as the United Nations Children’s Fund and UNICEF to educate those who resist.

Dr Tajudine Oiwale of UNICEF Zimbabwe said his organization and others are working with the government to contain the outbreak.

“the same as [during] COVID response, the Zimbabwe government and partners are taking seriously the current measles outbreak in the country,” he said. “The government is now deploying rapid response teams supported by UNICEF, WHO and other partners to better track measles outbreaks. community stakeholders are working together to raise awareness of the measles vaccine and address community resistance to vaccination.”

The measles outbreak was first reported in Zimbabwe’s Manicaland province, which borders Mozambique, and has since spread nationwide.




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