By Abigirl Tembo, Health Editor
WITH the recent surge in Measles cases countrywide, health experts are calling for mandatory Measles Vaccination to save children’s lives.
As the Measles death toll nears 700, with almost 100 cases being recorded on a daily basis, health experts are calling on government to intervene and ensure every child is vaccinated, especially among the apostolic sects where a high number of children are not vaccinated.
“We have noted with concern that the number of Measles cases sky rocketing. The outbreak is coming from a number of factors, the first one is coming from unvaccinated children. Zimbabwe used to have a 90% vaccination coverage, but there are a lot of challenges we are facing at the moment. The first one being that there are some religious sects especially apostolic sects who are shunning the vaccination drive, who are against all sorts of vaccination taking place so this is putting everyone at risk. We would like to urge everyone to take their children for vaccination against Measles. Can all religious sects follow what is supposed to be done. For public health measures to be fully functional and operational sometimes we may need even legislation, a piece of legislation to force everyone to do the right thing Vaccination should be mandatory for everyone,” said Dr Johannes Marisa, Public health expert.
“Usually after a pandemic it’s common to see such outbreaks, its expected and it can be predictable. For us the situation is worsened by the fact they we still have a significant proportion of our population who choose not to have their children vaccinated, because for a disease like Measles the only really effective thing we have is the vaccine so if people are still able to choose not to have their children vaccinated then it’s a serious issue. For me I would recommend even extreme measures just like what we did with masks, there should be a national mandate to deal with outbreak,” noted Dr Amos Marume, Harare Institute of Public Health Principal.
Of the 6 291 cases reported nationwide, 3009 are coming from Manicaland, accounting for almost 50 percent of the cases and deaths.
Out of those cases from Manicaland, only 523 are vaccinated against Measles, with 347 children from the province dying at home before seeking medical attention.