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Zim scores big against measles

22 Aug, 2016 - 00:08 0 Views
Zim scores big against measles

The Herald

immunisationPaidamoyo Chipunza and Abigail Mawonde
Zimbabwe has reached a milestone in its fight against measles with revelations immunisation coverage is now 94 percent from 50 percent in 2005, according to a recent study.

This means almost all children born today are safe from the disease.

The assessment shows that the country’s immunisation programme had gone up owing to deliberate Government’s interventions.

Zimbabwe launched a national immunisation programme in 2012 following a massive measles outbreak in 2009 which killed 630 children.

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Over 12 000 suspected cases were recorded during the period.

In 1982, about 25 percent of children were protected against the six killer diseases, but now 94 percent of them get vaccinated.

Ministry of Health and Child Care community nursing deputy director Mrs Regina Gerede could not provide much information on the study when contacted for comment by The Herald on Friday.

“Yes, there was a post-measles campaign which showed that the national immunisation coverage is now at 94 percent, but I cannot give details at the moment,” she said.

Harare City Council Health Services director Dr Prosper Chonzi described the development as a milestone in the fight against the disease.

“The way we deal with vaccinable diseases is that we want to protect those not yet ill. If we reach 100 percent it means we are moving towards elimination of the desease. In 2005 when we were at 50 pecent, it meant half of the children were not being immunised and risked having the diease,” said Dr Chonzi.

“At 94 percent, it means most of our children are protected against measles. We are going towards elimination. It is a milestone,” he said. “We want to get to 100 percent but still at 94 percent we have gone a long way. This is lot of progress towards immunisation. If we reach 100 percent it means all children being born are protected from measles,” he said.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative Dr David Okello commended the improvement saying this should help the country’s measles elimination status and contribute towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on child mortality.

“Countrywide immunisation is being delivered effectively through both static and outreach activities,” said Dr Okello.

He said the expanded programme on immunisation was introduced in Zimbabwe in 1982 with support from the WHO.

The primary objective was to ensure all children under one year were vaccinated against the six killer diseases namely polio, diphtheria, tuberculosis, pertusis, measles and tetanus.

Traditionally, members of the Apostolic sects have shied away from immunisation programmes for religious reasons, thus leaving their children vulnerable to attacks and undermining efforts to eradicate the disease.

Countrywide immunisation awareness campaigns have, however, changed this attitude and they now get their children vaccinated against diseases like measles.

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