Zimbabwe says an outbreak of measles has killed 700 children

measles

Electron micrograph of the measles virus. Credit: CDC / Courtesy of Cynthia S. Goldsmith

The Zimbabwean Ministry of Health said the death toll from the measles outbreak in Zimbabwe has risen to nearly 700 children.

Some are calling for legislation to make vaccination mandatory in a country where anti-modern medicine Religious denominations control large sections of the population of 15 million.

And the South African country’s health ministry announced at the weekend that 698 children had died measles Since the outbreak in April.

The ministry said 37 deaths occurred in one day on September 1. The Ministry of Health said it had recorded 6,291 cases as of September 4.

The latest figures are more than four times the number of deaths announced about two weeks ago when the ministry said 157 children, most of whom had not been vaccinated because of their families. Religious beliefshad succumbed to the disease.

Dr Johannes Marissa, president of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors and Private Dental Practitioners, told The Associated Press on Monday that the government should step up an ongoing mass vaccination campaign and initiate awareness programs specifically targeting anti-vaccine. religious groups.

“Because of the resistance, education may not be enough, so the government should also consider using coercive measures to ensure that no one is allowed to refuse to vaccinate their children,” said Marisa. He urged the government to “consider enacting legislation to make vaccination against deadly diseases such as measles mandatory”.

The Measles outbreak It was first reported in the eastern province of Manicaland in early April and has since spread to all parts of the country.

Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said in August that many of the deaths were of unvaccinated children.

Zimbabwe’s Cabinet has adopted a law used for disaster response to deal with the outbreak.

The government has embarked on a large-scale vaccination campaign targeting children between 6 months and 15 years of age and engaging traditional and religious leaders to support the campaign.

Zimbabwe continued to vaccinate children against measles even at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, but it was stymied by religious groups that broadcast against vaccinations.

Christian denominations oppose modern medicine and require their members to rely on purported prophets for healing.

The statement said that church gatherings that resumed after easing the restrictions of the new Corona virus “led to the spread of measles to previously unaffected areas.” Ministry of Health In a statement last week.

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases in the world and is spread mostly in the air by coughing, sneezing or close contact.

Symptoms include cough, fever, and rash, while the risk of severe measles or death from complications is high among unvaccinated children.

Outbreaks among the unvaccinated and malnourished populations are known to kill thousands. Scientists estimate that more than 90% of the population needs to be immunized to prevent an outbreak of measles.

The World Health Organization warned in April of an increase in measles infection rates in countries at risk as a result of disruptions to services due to COVID-19.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in July that about 25 million children All over the world, routine immunizations against common childhood diseases have been missed, calling them a ‘red alert’. baby health.


More than 150 children die in measles outbreak in Zimbabwe


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