By- A Honde Vally family has lost seven children to measles within two weeks.
The children were aged between three and 11.
The state media reports that Rode family’s remaining eight children survived after their parents took the bold decision to quit their white garment church and seek medical services for them.
Religious beliefs that discourage seeking medical services have been identified as the major cause of the current measles outbreak and the resulting deaths.
Mr Tendai Rode of Nyamaende in Honde Valley told Zimpapers’ Television Network (ZTN) that it was painful to bury his children one after the other within such a short space of time. He said in an interview:
I am married to three wives and I was blessed with 15 children. All my children got infected with measles. This happened within a week and on day eight, some of the children who had developed a skin rash started coughing.
The following day, the first child, aged three, died in the morning. The other one, aged four, died in the afternoon. We buried them the following morning.
The other child, aged five, succumbed to the same disease two days later. Barely a day later, the other girl who was doing Grade Two also died.
The other child died the next day. We were all traumatised because five children had succumbed to the disease within a week.
Watching my children dying one after the other made me think twice about my religious beliefs. I saw it prudent to quit my church and seek medical attention for my children at the local health institution.
However, my 11-year-old boy who was being attended to at the clinic failed to make it. He died that very evening. The other one died three days later.
So five of my children died before we could seek medical attention for them, while the other two died after our visit to the clinic. All the children were not vaccinated as this was against our religious beliefs.
However, the measles tests done on my children were not conclusive. The skin rash had disappeared, but their coughing persisted. This disease cost me dearly and I have nowhere to start. All our resources were drained during the seven funerals.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health and Child Care say as of last week, Manicaland had recorded 3 010 cases and 347 deaths, mostly in Mutasa District. Of those cases, 507 were vaccinated, while 1 982 were unvaccinated. The status of 527 people was unknown.
In response to the measles outbreak, the Government has deployed mobile teams to vaccinate children between the ages of six months and 15 years.
Measles is caused by a highly contagious virus that spreads from person to person via airborne transmission, including breathing, coughing and sneezing.
Among other symptoms, infected persons develop a skin rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, irritated red and watery eyes.