The Zimbabwe government has said that 157 children have died due to measles. The country is grappling with the disease as the total number of suspected cases nationwide has doubled in four days. Those who succumbed were not vaccinated against measles according to officials.
According to information minister Monica Mutsvangwa, the total number of suspected cases across the country has risen from 1,036 to 2,056 in the space of just four days. The country’s health ministry had earlier blamed gatherings of religious sects for the outbreak.
The country logged its first infected case this month. Most of the cases involved children between the ages of six months and 15 years hailing from religious sects that do not believe in vaccination.
“It has been noted that most cases have not received vaccination to protect against measles. Government has invoked the Civil Protection Unit Act to deal with this emergency,” Mutsvangwa said.
According to AFP, Mutsvangwa further insisted that the Zimbabwean government was looking to work with traditional and religious leaders to garner their support for the country’s vaccination campaign.
She also said the government would increase the number of vaccinations administered and pointed out that special legislation allowed it to draw money from the national disaster fund “to deal with the emergency.”
The measles virus mainly affects children. Some of the more serious complications connected to the illness are blindness, brain swelling, diarrhea and severe respiratory infections. A common occurrence once upon a time, the virus can now be prevented with a vaccine.
In April, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that Africa was facing an explosion of preventable diseases due to delays in vaccinating children, with measles cases rising by 400 percent.