11 May 2011

Apostolic churches in Zimbabwe lift ban on vaccinations but too late for hundreds of children who died unprotected

New Zimbabwe   -  May 10, 2011

Apostolic sects agree to immunisation

by New Zimbabwe Staff Reporter

THE various Apostolic Faith sects and Zionist churches have lifted a ban on their members from having their children immunised against Zimbabwe’s six main killer diseases, officials confirmed.

The Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ), an ecumenical board of Apostolic and Zionist churches, said Monday that it was adopting a constitution making it mandatory for members to vaccinate and immunise their children.

The latest breakthrough follows years of lobbying by health authorities, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe who have used appearances at church conventions to call on the churches to embrace immunisation.

“There have been clashes between some members of the Apostolic and Zionist churches and the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare over the issue of immunisation. It has been alleged that some members have been refusing to immunise their children on religious grounds. We want to change that and, as a board, we are working towards a solution,” said Bishop Johannes Ndanga, speaking in Gokwe where Headman Chisina was named patron of the Apostolic and Zionist Churches.

“We want our members to participate in the national immunisation programmes often carried out by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare. Our teams will be touring parts of the country, visiting all indigenous Apostolic and Zionist church leaders to table all issues of concern that each church has been failing to address or overcome. ACCZ will also use this platform to urge all members to immunise their children.”

Health officials say hundreds of children have died in recent years after their parents refused to have them immunised, citing strict religious beliefs. Measles have been the biggest killer.

Some members of the Apostolic churches shun most forms of western medicine in the belief that it diminishes their supernatural powers.

Last year, Jeremiah Makumbe, 39, of Bhuka Farm in the Soti Source Resettlement Scheme allegedly murdered his wife, Beauty Mboneki , 33, by kicking and hitting her with an iron bar after she took their children to a local clinic to be vaccinated.

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Six members of Apostolic sect in Zimbabwe given suspended prison sentences for medically neglecting children

1 comment:

  1. Zimbabwe Adolescent Pregnancies Rampant in Apostolic Sect Communities, Unicef

    AllAfrica.com SEPTEMBER 21, 2015

    THE government has been challenged to urgently intervene as the number of young girls aged between 13 and 16 years falling pregnant increases among the apostolic sects, risking their lives and those of the unborn children.

    A survey by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) shows that thousands of adolescent pregnancies have been attended to at various hospitals and clinics in Zimbabwe, with Buhera Ward 22 recording 271 cases in less than a month.

    In Muzarabani, Mashonaland Central, a church survey revealed that 251 cases of adolescent pregnancies had been recorded at a clinic in the district.

    Between 33% and 38% of Zimbabweans belong to various apostolic sects and most do not seek medical treatment meaning the numbers of adolescent pregnancies could be higher than those recorded in the survey.

    Girls in the sects are married as soon as they finish primary education and, as one believer put it; "our religion does not allow us to take any form of contraception because it's murder."

    UNICEF also said there was low uptake of maternal and child health services among sect members, leading to high maternal deaths in these communities.

    Mandy Chikombero, the local UNICEF spokesperson, said authorities must come up with a package of immediate and long term interventions to address the problem.

    She said "low value" is been placed on the child's life as sect members use holy water, oil, mealie- meal, salt, stones in the healing processes before and after delivery of babies.

    However, Zimbabwe Community Development Association official, Camilias Machingura, accused health service providers of failing to engage the sects and understand their values.

    "There is a knowledge gap and improper packaging of knowledge by health service providers in the country.

    "The sect members are being stigmatised when they visit health centres, so attitudes should be changed towards the particular group," said Machingura.

    He said health extension workers needed training on how to engage sect members.

    "Confrontational, prescriptive and coercive approaches should be avoided. This group is willing to be included in modern methods of healing at health institutions," he added.