Harare, 28 September 2022 (TDI): UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths allocated $1.5 million for health assistance to control the measles outbreak in Zimbabwe.

In addition, other UN agencies are also collaborating with the Zimbabwe government to fight the spread of this disease.

Measles outbreak in Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe Ministry of Health and childcare has reported 6500 cases and 700 deaths in children due to measles. In the first two months of 2022, 17 338 measles cases were reported worldwide as compared to 9665 during the first two months of 2021.

As measles is very contagious, cases tend to show up faster when vaccination levels decline. The WHO and other UN agencies showed concern about the outbreak of other diseases along with measles.

Measles weakens the immunity system of a child’s body and makes it vulnerable to other contagious diseases. Children, even after six months of recovery from measles, are prone to diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea.

This has occurred due to the deteriorating immunity of children since 2017. The state has been under political and economic crisis.

The economic condition of the citizens has been going downhill since then. Their focus has shifted towards food and shelter instead of healthcare.

To add to their misery, the COVID-19 pandemic became another reason for conscious parents to stay away from hospitals. This led to a further decline in the vaccination rate in children.

Also read: WHO confirms Ebola outbreak in Uganda 

UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell had warned the global community about the dangers of the lack of routine childhood vaccinations. She had shown concern about the probability of children getting infected with other diseases in the wake of COVID-19.

She said, “It is encouraging that people are beginning to feel protected enough from COVID-19 to return to social activities. But doing so in places where children are not receiving routine vaccination creates the perfect storm for the spread of a disease like measles.”

She added, “Measles is more than a dangerous and potentially deadly disease. It is also an early indication that there are gaps in our global immunization coverage, gaps vulnerable children cannot afford.”

World Health Organization (WHO) authorities suggest an urgent strengthening of immunization systems.

The authorities are also trying to collaborate with religious leaders to compel people to get their children vaccinated. The financial assistance from the UN will be used to catalyze the health relief activities in Zimbabwe.