Measles outbreak kills 80 children in Zimbabwe
Published: Aug 15, 2022 09:22 PM
A total of 80 children have died in a measles outbreak in Zimbabwe since April, the ministry of health has said, blaming the surge on church gatherings.

In a statement seen by ­Reuters on Sunday, the ministry said the outbreak had now spread nationwide, with a case fatality rate of 6.9 percent.

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

"These gatherings 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.

Most reported cases are among children aged between 6 months and 15 years old from religious sects who are not vaccinated against measles due to religious beliefs, he said.

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.