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Covert vaccinations help Zimbabwean mothers protect their children – Times of India

Harare: Dozens of women with babies rushed to the wooden benches of the clinic Zimbabwe Meanwhile, a nurse led another group of anxious mothers and their children through the back door into another room. The nurse closed the door behind her.
all the women were there Mbale A polyclinic in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, is immunizing children against measles amid a deadly measles outbreak in the southern African country. However, those taken to the back room secretly vaccinated their children, defying religious tenets against the use of modern medicines.
“We’ve seen children die because of the coming measles epidemic, so they’re coming in secret now and we’re helping them,” he said. Luis Foyaclinic nurse.
In Zimbabwe, more than 700 children died of measles in an outbreak first reported in April.Many were not vaccinated for religious reasons, Minister of Information Monica Mtsvanwa Said.
The government has announced a push for immunization, but as with Covid-19, some religious groups have stubbornly opposed the vaccine and hindered the campaign.
Apostolic groups, who infuse traditional beliefs into Pentecostal doctrine, are Zimbabwe’s most skeptical of modern medicine. Instead, believers put their faith in prayer, holy water, and other means to prevent and cure disease.
“They have a belief that being vaccinated makes them unclean, so that’s the doctrine passed on to women,” Foya said. He stated that it meant “not having the power to say no openly” to instructions.
Little detailed research has been done on the Apostolic Church in Zimbabwe, united nations UNICEF estimates it is the largest denomination with about 2.5 million followers in a country of 15 million people. Some members may seek health care. Many are still resistant.
That is why some mothers secretly visit clinics, sometimes in the middle of the night, without their husbands knowing, to save their children. A group of members of the Apostolic Church open to modern medicine are trying to change the church’s attitude, but are advising women to go against church rules if it means helping children.
“We recommend that women vaccinate their children, perhaps at night,” said Debra Mpov, member of the Apostolic Women’s Empowerment Trust. “A woman really needs to protect her children, so it’s important for her to sneak out.”
Secrecy is necessary because members found to have visited the medical center are disgraced and forbidden from participating in church activities.
of who warned in April that measles was on the rise in vulnerable countries due to the Covid-19 chaos, with more than 40 countries postponing or suspending routine vaccination campaigns. In July, UNICEF revealed that about 25 million children worldwide were not getting routine immunizations against common childhood diseases, calling it a “child health emergency”.
Globally, WHO and UNICEF have reported a 79% surge in measles in the first two months of 2022 alone, warning of a potential pandemic. Measles has the highest risk of becoming severe among infectious diseases and is easily preventable with a vaccine. More than 95% of his deaths from measles occur in developing countries.
The outbreak in Zimbabwe was first reported in eastern Manicaland following church gatherings and has spread across the country. The government has launched a vaccination campaign targeting millions of children with the support of UNICEF, WHO and other non-governmental organizations.
At a clinic in Mbale, a mother said people have learned from the vaccine hesitancy that prevailed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“A lot of people were misunderstood during Covid-19 because they were told that getting the vaccine would have side effects,” said the mother. Winette Musharira“So many people died because of it. It was important for everyone to take it seriously. So when I heard about measles, I took my kids to the hospital and vaccinated them.” I said I had to take
Musiyarira said she is not a member of any religious group. Some women, who wore white headscarves that identified them as members of the Apostolic Church, secretly refused to be interviewed by the Associated Press for fear of retaliation from church leaders.
Apostolic groups are notorious for being wary of outsiders.
In a bushy area in the impoverished Epworth area outside Harare, apostolic believers in white robes recently met outdoors to hold services, following their tradition. Kneeling in front of a man who claimed to be a prophet, he scooped the ashes from the fireplace, put them in a plastic bag, and took them home to cure his illness.
This is one of many congregations approached by Mpofu’s Apostolic Women Empowerment Trust. On this occasion, after intense negotiations, Mpov and her team were allowed to address the congregation and distribute vaccination leaflets. church leaders, James Kazandealso agreed to allow his followers to take their children to the clinic.
But there were conditions. Before going to the clinic, they had to approach the prophet of the church for blessings.
“First, we must protect them with the Holy Spirit, to ward off demons and bad luck,” said Katsande, a tall man in a white robe and white headscarf with a cross. remains our first port of call,” he added.

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