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Measles, mumps outbreak claims 35 children

ZIMBABWE is battling an outbreak of archaic diseases blamed on the country’s deteriorating health delivery system amid reports that 35 children died in a space of a month from suspected measles and mumps.

An outbreak of similar proportions was recorded in 2022 with more than 750 children succumbing to the diseases within the outbreak’s first six months to October.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services ministry secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana broke the news saying the Civil Protection Unit (CPU)  had dispatched officials to Hurungwe where cases of the disease have been recorded.

“The CPU is seized with the death of 35 children who have died in a space of a month from suspected measles and mumps. The children are from one of the apostolic religious sects.

“The tragic deaths came to light when a member of the church brought four of his children to Karoi Hospital with two showing signs of measles and the other two having mumps,” he said.

The death of 16 children from four families is feared to be a tip of the iceberg compared to hundreds of unrecorded deaths among the apostolic sect members in the district.

Mangwana said the outbreak had affected wards 4 and 22 including Nyama village 5 in Hurungwe district.

He identified some of the families that lost children as Nduna (seven children), Magara (5) and the Matashu, Chikonamombe and Kaitano that lost two each.

“The children are from one of the apostolic religious sects,” he said.

In an interview in Karoi yesterday, Hurungwe district CPU chairperson Andrew Tizora said investigations were ongoing within the outlying rural district.

He said government had deployed more teams to look into the measles and mumps outbreak.

“Yes, I can confirm that there are over 35 children that have died due to measles and mumps within Hurungwe district. We have had some deaths reported in areas like Lynx Mine within Hurungwe Rural District Council ward 4 and Nyama within ward 22. Our investigations are not conclusive and are ongoing over the issues that are a public health issue,” he said.

Speaking to NewsDay, Charles Makara of Nyama village, blamed apostolic sect members for denying immunisation to children although it is free.

“Government must step up efforts on public health issues especially among the apostolic sects,” he said.

In September 2022, NewsDay exposed the death of several children in Menoembwa rural under Chief Mudzimu, ward 13.

The affected children were not vaccinated against measles while there were concerns over secret burials of some affected children.

The government last year rolled out a nationwide emergency immunisation programme targeting 95% of all children from 6 to 59 months and in some instances up to 15 years to attain herd immunity.

Source | NewsDay


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