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Zimbabwe blames measles surge on sect gatherings after 80 children die

by Tom Chiahemen
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Zimbabwe ministry of health says measles outbreak has killed 80 children in the country since April.

The ministry said in a statement that the outbreak had now spread nationwide, with a case fatality rate of 6.9 per cent.

The ministry blamed church sect gatherings for the surge.

Health Secretary, Jasper Chimedza said as of Thursday, 1,036 suspected cases and 125 confirmed cases had been reported since the outbreak.

Chimeza said Manicaland in eastern Zimbabwe recorded most infections.

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

“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.”

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

He added that most reported cases are among children aged between six months and 15 from religious sects who are not vaccinated against measles due to religious beliefs.

In Zimbabwe, some apostolic church sects forbid their followers from taking vaccinations or any medical treatment.

The churches attract millions of followers with their promises to heal illnesses and deliver people from poverty.

With a low vaccination rate and in some cases, no record keeping, the government has resolved to start a mass vaccination campaign in areas where the outbreak was recorded.

The measles outbreak is expected to strain an ailing health sector already blighted by lack of medication and intermittent strikes by health workers. (Reuters/NAN)

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