COMMUNITY Working Group on Health (CWGH), a pressure group that has been assisting the measles-hit province of Manicaland, has bemoaned the government’s lack of transparency in fighting the disease.
The government declared the outbreak on 11 August 2022 after 80 children succumbed to the disease in Mutasa. Measles is a highly contagious respiratory tract viral infection commonly found in children.
The director of CWGH, Itai Rusike, said the government has not released new data on the disease since the outbreak was declared early last month.
“The government has not been releasing any new updates or highlights lately on the measles situation, hence it is very difficult to get the actual confirmed measles cases and deaths without the official figures from the authorities,” said Rusike.
True to Rusike’s word, when The NewsHawks requested the latest information on the outbreak during this week’s post-cabinet briefing, Higher and Tertiary Education minister Amon Murwira, who was standing in for Health minister Constantino Chiwenga, said the initial death toll might have been overstated.
“On the measles outbreak, the government has already embarked on a vaccination blitz and we are doing it, but it’s also important to note that unlike previously when we were seeing some reports that were talking about some deaths that were being attributed to measles; some of them have not been confirmed that it was measles, so it is very important to put the record straight that the numbers were not just due to measles,” Murwira said.
“I think there was an exaggeration, but of course, there was an outbreak which was caused by an outbreak in the region, but we are responding very effectively and it is also important and we must be happy that we are not hearing of deaths from measles. It’s good. It means we are working very hard. “In actual fact, in our report today we did not discuss any issue on measles as a separate issue. We discussed measles the previous time and we responded to the measles issue that previous time, so at this moment our response is so robust that it is no longer a news item,” he added.
Manicaland had its last measles outbreak 10 years ago and the current one, like all previous ones, was attributed to religious sects that do not believe in vaccinating their children.
Rusike urged the government to step up efforts to conscientise families in the hotspots of the need to vaccinate their children.
“It is also equally important for the government to continue engaging and encouraging the leadership of the apostolic sects to embrace the measles vaccine in order to save lives,” he said.