Plea to fund measles fight

HARARE - The Zimbabwean government and UN officials have issued an international appeal for funds to help contain an outbreak of measles that has killed at least 183 people - mainly unvaccinated children under the age of 5.

HARARE - The Zimbabwean government and UN officials have issued an international appeal for funds to help contain an outbreak of measles that has killed at least 183 people - mainly unvaccinated children under the age of 5.

Unicef director in Zimbabwe Dr Peter Salama said in Harare on Monday that the outbreak was "symbolic" of the weakened health system in the poverty-stricken nation.

"It is true that measles in Zimbabwe is now out of control, given that it is now in all parts of the country.

"We can now say all children (in Zimbabwe) are at the risk of dying of measles," Salama said.

Minister of Health and Child Welfare Henry Madzorera said $8,4 million (R64million) is needed to fund a reinvigorated immunisation programme.

The disease had initially been mainly confined to families of some religious groups who refuse conventional medical treatment, but has since spread. About 1840 people have been affected countrywide.

Madzorera said the government is working on a law that would make immunisation compulsory, with parents facing prosecution if they fail to have their children vaccinated.

In 2008, a cholera outbreak claimed about 5000 lives in Zimbabwe after authorities failed to import adequate water-treating chemicals, forcing people to depend on unprotected water sources for drinking. - Sapa-dpa

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