The Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) has urged the government to intensify measles vaccination and awareness campaigns to prevent further deaths as the highly contagious disease continues to claim lives countrywide.
By Staff Reporter
In a statement, CWGH Executive Director, Mr Itai Rusike said, “…the worrying statistics from the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) indicate that since the measles outbreak in Mutasa district in Manicaland province last month about 700 people, mainly from the religious sects that do not believe in vaccination, have succumbed to the disease.
“More depressing is the fact that the disease, which is preventable by vaccination, has since spread to other parts of the country, killing more people mainly children. With the opening of schools this week, there are fears that the highly contagious disease could rapidly spread across the country, claiming more lives as children from different areas and beliefs mix and mingle in education institutions.”
Government should therefore urgently strengthen its surveillance, control and management procedures to avoid an explosion of the disease in schools.
This also calls on the government to roll-out serious awareness and vaccination campaigns countrywide, including engaging leaders of apostolic sects to ensure they get their children vaccinated to prevent these avoidable deaths.
It is only through reaching out to religious leaders, who command a lot of respect and influence among their congregants that the majority of their followers can agree to get their children vaccinated against measles and other killer diseases.
Informative messages and materials should be printed and distributed where community members who are at risk are likely to have access to them.
It is important to note that partnership among the public health sector, civil society and media is critical for successful implementation of public health activities. For that reason, we urge the government to roll-out serious awareness campaigns against measles on television, radio, newspapers, social media platforms and carrying out road shows in the affected areas to ensure that the message reaches out to all citizens to prevent further deaths. One death is too many.
Parents and guardians must also play a pivotal role in the fight against measles. It is inexcusable that, in this time and age, children continue to die from measles and other diseases that are preventable or that should have been eradicated decades ago.