MEASLES has killed 80 children aged between six months and 15 years after 1 036 were infected since April.
About 125 of the cases were confirmed in the laboratory. As a result of the outbreak, the Government has launched a mass vaccination exercise against the contagious infection.
The outbreak is disturbing but we commend the Government for taking action before it spreads more widely. We say we are disturbed because measles is preventable through a simple immunisation.
Science has always told us that and a statement, issued yesterday by Health and Child Care Permanent Secretary Air Commodore Dr Jasper Chimedza confirms that fact. He said all the 80 fatalities are unvaccinated children and most of the positive cases involved kids of that status as well. Most of these cases were reported in some religious denominations that believe that immunisation does not work and is against their beliefs.
“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, 2022 in Mutasa District of Manicaland Province has since spread nationwide following church gatherings,” said Dr Chimedza.
“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.”
We cite him on our front page today observing that most of the deaths were recorded in Manicaland where 45 kids have died from 356 cases.
“The Ministry of Health and Child Care would like to point out that most cases reported are among children aged six months to 15 years from religious sects who are not vaccinated against measles due to religious beliefs,” he said.
Measles is viral infection that is serious for small children but is easily preventable by a vaccine.
The disease spreads through the air by respiratory droplets produced from coughing or sneezing. Its symptoms don’t appear until 10 to 14 days after exposure. They include cough, runny nose, inflamed eyes, sore throat, fever and a red, blotchy skin rash. There is no treatment to get rid of an established measles infection, but over-the-counter fever reducers or vitamin A may help with symptoms.
The Constitution guarantees a number of freedoms including that of religion.
However, when the exercise of that freedom by parents and or guardians sickens and takes the lives of children who are too young to take independent and informed decisions to stick to any religious teachings or not, there is a need for us all to step back and ask ourselves if those beliefs are really good.
We will not want to offend those among us who hold their religious beliefs but we urge them to take the health of their children, and theirs as well, much more seriously.
We are glad that there has been an encouraging movement in recent years as more people including most religious organisations take their children to school and health centres.
When Covid-19 broke out in 2020, basically all religious organisations, including those that are traditionally reluctant, expressed their support for the ongoing vaccination campaign against the viral disease.
We urge all our people to embrace hospitals and clinics. It is unfortunate that we have already lost 80 young lives, but we urge those among us who cite religious beliefs as a reason to shun vaccination to introspect. That introspection must show them the dangers of rejecting conventional medicine and move them to get their children immunised against measles under the ongoing blitz.