Zimbabwe measles outbreak death toll rises to 685 – health ministry


Mothers walk past a billboard promoting vaccination against polio and measles at a clinic in Harare June 21, 2012. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo/File Photo

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HARARE, Sept 3 (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s measles outbreak has so far claimed 685 lives, the health ministry said on Saturday, more than four times the cases reported nearly a fortnight ago, while even though a national vaccination program continues.

“Zimbabwe has recorded 6,034 confirmed cases including 4,266 and 685 deaths,” the ministry said in a Twitter post, adding that 191 new cases and 37 deaths were reported in a single day on September 1.

Mainly children between the ages of six months and 15 years succumbed to the disease, especially those from religious sects that do not believe in vaccinations, the country’s Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said last month. Read more

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According to government claims, apostolic sects do not believe in vaccinations and rely on prayers. Apostolic church leaders have not responded to government claims that their beliefs are responsible for the wider spread of measles.

The government is reaching out to religious leaders for support and awareness, Mutsvangwa said.

Appeals to Bishop Andby Makururu of the Johanne Masowe Apostolic Church were not immediately answered on Saturday.

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Reporting by Nyasha Chingono; Written by Promit Mukherjee; Editing by Mike Harrison

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