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Zimbabwe links most recent measles outbreak to religious events

Zimbabwe links most recent measles outbreak to religious events

  • A measles outbreak has killed 80 children in Zimbabwe since April.
  • The government blames the outbreak on church group gatherings.
  • The outbreak has now expanded nationwide, with a case fatality rate of 6.9%.

 

A measles outbreak has killed 80 children in Zimbabwe since April, according to the ministry of health, which blames the outbreak on church group gatherings.

The government said in a statement seen by news agency on Sunday that the outbreak has now expanded nationwide, with a case fatality rate of 6.9%.

As of Thursday, Health Secretary Jasper Chimedza said 1,036 suspected cases and 125 confirmed cases had been reported since the outbreak, with Manicaland in eastern Zimbabwe accounting for the majority of infections.

“Health ministry and child care wishes to inform the public that the ongoing outbreak of measles which was first reported on 10th of April has since spread nationwide following church gatherings,” Chimedza said in a statement.

“These gathering which were attended by people from different provinces of the country with unknown vaccination status led to the spread of measles to previously unaffected areas.”

According to Chimedza, Manicaland, the second-most populous province, had 356 cases and 45 deaths.

The majority of reported cases are among children aged six months to fifteen from religious sects who are not immunised against measles owing to religious beliefs, he noted.

The leader of the Johanne Masowe apostolic sect, Bishop Andby Makuru, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some apostolic church factions in Zimbabwe prevent their followers from receiving vaccines or medical treatment. With their promises to heal sicknesses and liberate people from poverty, churches attract millions of followers.

With a low vaccination rate and, in some cases, minimal record keeping, the government has decided to launch a mass vaccination campaign in areas where an epidemic has been detected.

The measles outbreak is expected to put more strain on a health-care system already beleaguered by medicine shortages and health-care worker strikes.

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