However, the leader of one of the main sects of the Apostolic Church, Bishop Andby Makururu, denied that their members were responsible for the spread of disease, saying they had since abandoned the old doctrine which discouraged the use of medicine.
“Apostolic churches are transforming – we welcome change and always encourage our fellow bishops and other leaders in our churches to urge their congregants to seek medical attention in clinics and hospitals whenever the need arises,” said Makururu, who is the head of the Johane the Fifth of the International Church of Africa said ReligionUnplugged.com in a telephone interview from his base in the eastern town of Mutare, about 220 kilometers (137 miles) from Harare.
“We are aware that diseases like measles can only be controlled by vaccination, because they cannot be treated by prayer, water, stones or milk alone (mediums used in faith healing) , but through a combination of medical and spiritual interventions,” the Bishop said. Makururu added that he was not aware of any measles deaths among their members, which he said renders the allegations against them baseless.
While most Apostolic Church leaders, like Bishop Makururu, publicly profess to drop their opposition to the use of Western drugs, some insiders say the message is simply meant to please political leaders with a show of conformity.
“This message is for politicians and others whose orders they don’t want to appear to be defying, not for us,” said Madzibaba Knowledge, a self-proclaimed prophet from another sanctuary in Harare. “They say that to make sure we don’t look like we’re going against the government, but in reality nothing has changed in our doctrine. …True apostolics do not get vaccinated or seek modern medical interventions.
Preventable ‘medieval disease’ deaths
Itai Rusike, the executive director of Community Health Working Group, worried about the attitude of those apostolic sects which research has traditionally shown to say one thing while doing the opposite in private.
“Despite the existence of a cost-effective and safe measles vaccine for nearly 60 years now, it is very regrettable that Zimbabwe is losing the lives of children to… preventable and preventable deaths,” Rusike said. . “There is absolutely no point in losing lives, especially in our time, to a very primitive and medieval disease like measles. We need to address the current reluctance to vaccination that we are seeing, especially among religious objectors…those who come from African apostolic sects who do not believe in vaccinating their children.
He said that only a multi-pronged approach including public awareness campaigns as well as dialogue with the leaders of these sects, among other initiatives, would help tackle the vaccine hesitancy in Zimbabwe.
“I think there is an urgent need for us to address the problem of lack of information,” Rusike said. “The danger is that we could have the same situation we had with COVID-19 at the start, where – due to lack of information – there was a lot of vaccine hesitancy, low uptake, misinformation and misinformation.”
Vaccine hesitancy is a serious problem in Zimbabwe. Despite being one of the first African countries to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and never running out of supplies, the cumulative number of vaccinated citizens is only 31.8% of the population.