2 Dec 2010

Zimbabwe measles epidemic worsens after Easter services of religious fundamentalists who oppose vaccinations

Voice of America - April 20, 2010

Zimbabwe Authorities Set Up Emergency Clinics To Battle Deadly Measles Outbreaks

New measles cases have been on the rise following Easter observances by the Johannes Marange Apostolic Sect and other religious denominations which reject medical care including vaccination against measles

Sandra Nyaira | Washington

With measles continuing to spread across rural parts of Zimbabwe and claim lives, authorities have started to set up emergency clinics to treat children, as was done to combat the 2008-2009 cholera epidemic.

Health sources said new measles cases have been on the rise across the country following Easter observances by members of the Johannes Marange Apostolic Sect and other religious denominations which reject medical care including vaccination against measles.

Some 3,000 cases of measles have occurred in 48 of the country's 60 or so districts since March, killing more than 200 people, most of them children. Health officials have called on police to compel parents to have their children vaccinated. Police said one family in Mutoko has lost nine children. Most members of the Apostolic Faith churches in the country are polygamous.

A new outbreak is suspected in Chipinge, Manicaland province, where children are presenting with sores. Authorities are said to have had difficulty limiting the spread of the outbreak, and one local hospital is said to have been charging US$15 a child for treatment, frustrating desperate parents.

Dr Douglas Gwatidzo, chairman of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that the government must take decisive action to stop the epidemic.

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Voice of America - May 20, 2010

Zimbabwean Apostolic Sects Promise to Cooperate With National Immunization Drive

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's spokesman James Maridadi said the apostolic sect leaders who attended the high-level meeting agreed to work with the government to make sure that their children are vaccinated

by Jonga Kandemiiri & Brenda Moyo | Washington

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday received assurances from leaders of apostolic faith sects that they will cooperate with the Ministry of Health and international partners to see that their children are immunized against measles and other diseases in a forthcoming campaign, a spokesman for the prime minister said.

Mr. Tsvangirai called the high-level meeting on immunization to engage apostolic faith sect leaders aiming to persuade take part in the national immunization campaign set to begin on Monday and run through June 2. The United Nations has provided US$5.6 million to help the country vaccinate an estimated 5 million children.

The immunization summit was also attended by representatives of the United Nations Children's Fund, the World Health Organization, the Ministry of Health and traditional chiefs.

Tsvangirai spokesman James Maridadi told VOA Studio 7 reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that the different apostolic sect leaders present agreed to work with the government to make sure that their children are vaccinated.

Health workers will vaccinate children between the ages of six months and 15 years against a range of diseases - in particular measles which has claimed more than 300 lives since September of last year. Outbreaks of measles spread in part because of religious objections to immunization by members of the apostolic sects.

UNICEF nutrition specialist Thokozile Ncube, who attended the immunization summit, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Brenda Moyo that the meeting was an eye-opener and very productive.

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ZimEye - Zimbabwe May 20, 2010

Vapostori Sect resists gvt immunisation scheme

By A-Correspondent for ZimEye.org

Harare(ZimEye)In what may be the beginning of a political showdown, the Johane Marange Vapostori church have publicly resisted the country’s measles immunisation program advocated by Prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, saying members who wish to participate will be expelled from the church.

On Wednesday the leader of Johane Marange Vapostori Church, Senator Chiduku sent out a broad ‘evangelical’ message to his followers that any member who gave up their children for immunization must do it with the knowledge that they would have discommunicated themselves from the church.

“We do not discourage our members from taking any medication. Those who want to get their children immunised can get out of the church and if they want to rejoin the church they will first confess before the congregation after the immunisation process, “Johane Marange Vapostori Church leader Senator Chiduku told ZBC news on Wednesday night

This announcement comes barely a week after Pauline Munyaradzi, Harare’s assistant director of health said,“We understand that the Prime Minister will soon meet various Vapostori sect leaders to raise awareness amongst mothers about the importance of immunisation.”

PRIME MINISTER Morgan Tsvangirai is set to engage Vapostori Faith sect leaders in a bid to convince the church leadership and members to participate in the forthcoming national vaccination campaign.

The ministry of Health in conjunction with UNICEF and World Health Organisation is on 22 May going to roll out a massive measles campaign targeting over five million children below the age of 15.

UNICEF public relations officer Tsitsi Singizi last week said 389 children had died of measles, with the number of cases increasing rapidly. Government relations with the sect have begun to be used as a campaign tool as Zanu Pf invents a historical insert in which they claim that Johane Marange prophesied of Mugabe’s rule in 1932, pacifying the church leaders.

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New Zimbabwe - May 22, 2010

Apostolic sect leaders snub PM

SECTIONS of the apostolic faith church leadership boycotted a child immunisation meeting called by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai ahead of a nation-wide vaccination exercise expected to begin on Monday.

The meeting was organized by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to encourage members of the sect to have their children immunised against child-killer diseases such as measles.

Leaders of the Johanne Masowe and Zviratidzo Zvevapositori factions attended the meeting while the Johanne Marange faction – said to be the largest – was not represented.
The Apostolic Faith sect does not generally subscribe to conventional medical treatment.

Those who did not turn up for the meeting were said to have been cheesed-off by allegations that the sect’s objection to child vaccination was helping fuel the spread of diseases.
A sect leader insisted to The Herald newspaper that they were not opposed to child vaccination.

“We as a church do not bar immunisation. However, the immunisation should not be done at the shrine but parents should immunise their children at family levels.

"When they come to church, they should ask for forgiveness before they are re-admitted in the church," Samuel Muzerengwa was reported as saying.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Tsvangirai said the immunisation programme was critical since children were particularly vulnerable to diseases such as measles.
"An estimated 90 percent of people that come into contact with a measles case will become infected if they are not immunised.

"Children are especially vulnerable, especially those under the age of five, while malnourished children are more prone to developing severe complications due to measles," he told the meeting.

The prime minister’s spokesperson, James Maridadi said sect leaders who attended the meeting offered to cooperate with the government’s vaccination campaign.

Health workers are expected to vaccinate children between the ages of six months and 15 years against diseases such as measles which has claimed the 300 lives since September last year.
The exercise is expected to run until the end of June.

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The Herald - Zimbabwe June 8, 2010

Sect Leader Resists Immunisation, Attacks Cop

by George Maponga

THE leader of a Johane Masowe Chishanu Apostolic Sect in Gutu is accused of brutally assaulting an armed policewoman who tried to convince him to get his seven children immunised against the seven child killer diseases last week.

Richard Takawira (50) of Hwingwiri Village under Chief Makore reportedly floored the policewoman -- who was armed with an FN rifle -- as she assisted health personnel at Hwingwiri Business Centre under the national immunisation programme.

Allegations are that Takawira told Constable Sibonginkosi Moyo, as she lay on the ground after the attack, she would have to first shoot him dead before he would allow anyone to immunise his children.

Takawira has since appeared before Gutu resident magistrate Mr Amos Mbobo facing charges of assaulting a policewoman carrying out her lawful duties.

Takawira -- who is denying the charges -- was remanded in custody to Thursday for trial.

Charges against Takawira arose last Saturday at Hwingwiri Business Centre during the national immunisation programme against the seven child killer diseases.

It is alleged that Takawira went to the business centre with his seven children and fellow sect members for a reason yet to be established.

Health personnel, accompanied by uniformed police officers, reportedly asked him to allow his children to get the inoculations, but he refused, arguing their sect had its own ways of dealing with diseases.

An altercation allegedly ensued between Takawira and health workers, prompting Const Moyo to try and calm the situation.

This, it is alleged, did not go down well with Takawira who attacked Const Moyo.

It was at this point that Takawira, the court was told, said Const Moyo must shoot him if she wanted to get to his children.

Sect members restrained their leader and police managed to arrest Takawira.

Mr Tedious Muchangani appeared for the State.

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