29 Nov 2010

After needless deaths of unvaccinated children Zimbabwe plans law to criminalize medical neglect

Voice of America - April 6, 2010

Zimbabwe Health Ministry Prepares Law Making Child Medical Care Obligatory

Health and Child Welfare Minister Henry Madzorera said the new law will be drafted along the lines of legislation in other Southern African countries

by Patience Rusere | Washington

Faced with the spread of deadly measles due in part to resistance to vaccination by religious sects, Zimbabwe health officials are drafting legislation that will make it illegal for parents to deny children medical care.

Health and Child Welfare Minister Henry Madzorera said the new law will be drafted along the lines of legislation in other Southern African countries.

While passing such legislation will take time, Dr. Madzorera said his ministry has rolled out a campaign to educate parents, particularly those belonging to the Johannes Marange religious sect and others which oppose immunization, about the risks of failing to immunize their children against diseases.

More than 180 children have died of measles in recent months, most of them from families belonging to such religious sects, health authorities say.

Dr. Douglas Gwatidzo, chairman of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that such a law is overdue given the public health risks of refusing vaccination on religious or other grounds.

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