Zimbabwe says measles outbreak has killed 700 children

Sep 5, 2022, 2:49 AM | Updated: Sep 6, 2022, 9:29 pm

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — The death toll from a measles outbreak in Zimbabwe has risen to almost 700 children, the country’s health ministry has said.

Some are calling for the enactment of legislation to make vaccination mandatory in a country where anti-modern medicine religious sects hold sway on large swathes of the population of 15 million people.

The southern African country’s health ministry announced at the weekend that 698 children have died from measles since the outbreak started in April.

The ministry said 37 of the deaths occurred on a single day on Sept.1. The health ministry said it had recorded 6,291 cases by Sept. 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 were unvaccinated due to their family’s religious beliefs, had succumbed to the disease.

Dr. Johannes Marisa, the president of the Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association, told The Associated Press on Monday that the government should escalate an ongoing mass vaccination campaign and embark on awareness programs targeted especially at 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 vaccination for their children,” said Marisa. He urged the government to “consider enacting legislation that makes vaccination against killer diseases such as measles mandatory.”

UNICEF on Monday said it “is deeply concerned” with the number of cases and deaths among children due to measles. The agency said it is assisting the government to combat the outbreak through immunization programs.

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

Many of the deaths have been of children who were not vaccinated, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said in August.

Zimbabwe’s Cabinet has invoked a law used to respond to disasters to deal with the outbreak.

The government has embarked on a mass vaccination campaign targeting children aged between 6 months and 15 years old and is engaging traditional and faith leaders to support the drive.

Zimbabwe continued vaccinating children against measles even during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, but the drive has been hampered by religious groups that preach against vaccines.

The Christian sects are against modern medicine and tell their members to rely on self-proclaimed prophets for healing.

Church gatherings that have resumed following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions have “led to the spread of measles to previously unaffected areas,” said the health ministry in a statement last week.

Measles is among the most infectious diseases in the world and mostly spreads in the air by coughing, sneezing or close contact.

Symptoms include coughing, fever and a skin rash, while the risk of severe measles or dying from complications is high among unvaccinated children.

Outbreaks in unvaccinated and malnourished populations have been known to kill thousands. Scientists estimate that more than 90% of the population needs to be immunized to prevent measles outbreaks.

The World Health Organization in April warned of an increase in measles in vulnerable countries as a result of a disruption of services due to COVID-19.

In July, the United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF, said about 25 million children worldwide have missed out on routine immunizations against common childhood diseases, calling it a “red alert” for child health.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Far-right Proud Boys member Jeremy Joseph Bertino, second from left, joins other supporters of Pres...
Associated Press

Riot plea: Proud Boys member admits to seditious conspiracy

WASHINGTON (AP) — A North Carolina man pleaded guilty Thursday to plotting with other members of the far-right Proud Boys to violently stop the transfer of presidential power after the 2020 election, making him the first member of the extremist group to plead guilty to a seditious conspiracy charge. Jeremy Joseph Bertino, 43, has agreed […]
19 hours ago
FILE - This undated photo released by the Arizona Attorney General's Office shows Guillermina Fuent...
Associated Press

Arizona woman seeks leniency in ballot harvesting case

PHOENIX (AP) — A parade of character witnesses provided a judge Thursday with glowing reports about a southern Arizona woman who admitted collecting four voted early ballots in the 2020 primary election, as her lawyer seeks leniency and prosecutors urge him to send her to prison for a year. Testimony in Yuma County Superior Court […]
19 hours ago
FILE - A demonstrator waves a flag with marijuana leaves depicted on it during a protest calling fo...
Associated Press

Biden pardons thousands for ‘simple possession’ of marijuana

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is pardoning thousands of Americans convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana under federal law, as his administration takes a dramatic step toward decriminalizing the drug and addressing charging practices that disproportionately impact people of color. Biden’s move also covers thousands convicted of the crime in the District of Columbia. […]
19 hours ago
President Joe Biden aboard Marine One arrives at the Wall Street Landing Zone in New York, Thursday...
Associated Press

Biden: Nuclear ‘Armageddon’ risk highest since ’62 crisis

NEW YORK (AP) — President Joe Biden said Thursday that the risk of nuclear “Armageddon” is at the highest level since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, as Russian officials speak of the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons after suffering massive setbacks in the eight-month invasion of Ukraine. Speaking at a fundraiser for the Democratic […]
19 hours ago
This image provided by WOI-TV, shows reporter Nora J.S. Reichardt. The Des Moines television report...
Associated Press

Iowa reporter announces on newscast that she is transgender

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Des Moines television reporter announced this week on a newscast that she will publicly identify as a transgender woman. Nora J.S. Reichardt of WOI-TV said that for a long time she didn’t think she would be able to reveal her identity on air. “I didn’t know if there was […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

‘Queen of the House’ singer Jody Miller dies at age 80

BLANCHARD, Okla. (AP) — Jody Miller, whose “Queen of the House” won the 1966 Grammy Award for best country performance by a woman, died Thursday at age 80. Miller died in her hometown of Blanchard, Oklahoma, of complications from Parkinson’s disease, according to Universal Music Group, owner of Capitol Records, which released most of her […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Zimbabwe says measles outbreak has killed 700 children