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Measles outbreak hits Zimbabwe killing more than 24 children

The Ministry of Health and Child Care is battling a measles outbreak by administering vaccines to children in Manicaland Province, Mutasa District, and the rest of the country’s regions.

The government has rolled out a mass vaccination in Mutasa District with an aim to vaccinate all children aged between six months to fifteen years – regardless of their vaccination status.

According to the World Health Organisation and UNICEF, the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the normal immunisation programmes used to tackle outbreaks such as this, causing a concern for the health of those who haven’t been able to partake.

“All provinces are being encouraged to be on high alert and report any suspected measles to the nearest health facility,” part of the WHO statement read.

What are the major causes?

Zimbabwe, as an African nation, mostly identifies itself with its cultural norms. A huge number of the population still practices traditional medicines and ways of living. Local reports indicate that most cases affecting children are caused by parents or guardians that identify themselves with these medicines and do not take up modern alternatives.

This has caused a number of children to miss out on immunisation against such diseases at an early age. Certain beliefs from some churches against modern medicines have made a number of members shun them in most parts of the country.

The measles spread is mostly attributed to social gatherings in venues such as churches. The Ministry of Health and Child Care warned the public to be cautious and look out for symptoms during interactions.

Together with WHO, the administration of the vaccines will cover the neighbouring regions that could be prone to the fast spread of the disease. Creating awareness and informing the public concerning the effects of the outbreak would ensure both parents and community members report any incidents fast as measles spread fast being a respiratory tract infection.

At the beginning of the outbreak, school closure caused difficulty in vaccination attempts to reach many kids.

Currently, schools are reopening and the health ministry is engaging with more children to administer the vaccine in various schools.

Some Mutasa regions are not easily accessible to the vaccine administrators due to insecurity and other factors such as being mountainous. Zimbabwe, one of the countries currently struggling to maintain and strengthen its economy, was one of the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic in Africa.

More efforts had been shifted to combat the virus in the country leaving a gap in some health situations affecting children.

How is the outbreak being tackled?

Lack of information and education on the dangers of measles to the general public has been reported to weaken the vaccination drive.

Health officials have created more awareness to interior parts of the regions to inform parents and the society members on the importance of the modern vaccines.

Similarly, the government is currently working with the church to demystify the information concerning measles for easier communication with the locals and believers to administer the vaccines successfully to all children.

Let’s hope the outbreak is controlled fully, soon.


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