The government says more than 80 children have died from measles, most of whom are from church gatherings whose congregants are known to resist vaccinations and do not believe in scientific medication.
Health Secretary Jasper Chimedza said as of last week, 1,036 suspected cases and 125 confirmed cases had been reported since the outbreak, with Manicaland topping the list.
Most reported cases are among children aged between six months and 15 from religious sects who are not vaccinated against measles due to religious beliefs,
“The ministry of health and child care wishes to inform the public that the ongoing outbreak of measles which was first reported on the 10th of April has since spread nationwide following church gatherings.
“These gatherings which were attended by people from different provinces of the country with unknown vaccination status led to the spread of measles to previously unaffected areas,” Chimedza said in a statement.
Earlier this year, the government said most cases are mountainous areas which are hard to reach, making the immunisation program difficult. In addition, the government cited religious objectors who are hard to break through.
Chimedza warned that the risk of developing a severe form of measles or dying from complications of measles is very high among unvaccinated children under 15 years.
He further stated that the ministry had mobilised adequate human and financial resources from within government and partners to curb the further spread of measles and avoid unnecessary deaths.
“The ministry is increasing routine vaccination to reach above 95% coverage for both first and second doses in children. Additionally, we are instituting a mass vaccination campaign targeting the six months to 15 years age groups regardless of their vaccination status,” he said.