Zimbabwe: Measles Outbreak – Final Report, DREF n° MDRZW018 – Zimbabwe

Situation Report in English on Zimbabwe about Health, Water Sanitation Hygiene and Epidemic; published on 18 Sep 2023 by IFRC

Source: Zimbabwe: Measles Outbreak – Final Report, DREF n° MDRZW018 – Zimbabwe | ReliefWeb


Description of the disaster

From early April 2022, Zimbabwe was struck by a deadly national measles outbreak that killed more than 750 children within the outbreak’s first 6 months to 2 October 2022. This outbreak raised alarm bells, with organizations like UNICEF, Red Cross and the WHO expressing concern and activating an emergency response strategy to provide support and resources to the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ). The first case was recorded in Manicaland province on the 10 April 2022 in Mutasa district and by 31 August, 639 children had succumbed to the virus accumulating to 750 deaths by early October.

In response, the Government of Zimbabwe rolled out a nationwide emergency immunization programme targeting 95% of all children from 6-59 months and in some instances up to 15 years to attain herd immunity. Nationally, and cumulatively, around 85% of all children under the age of five were fully vaccinated against measles by 2 October 2022. From October 2022 the GoZ’s focus was ramping up efforts to immunize the remaining eligible populations prioritizing those provinces with relatively lower vaccination rates. The outbreak affected mainly those children not vaccinated against measles and the key needs of the affected population included access to vaccines, medical treatment and support for families who have lost loved ones. As the outbreak was ongoing, it was difficult to predict specific dates and likely areas of impact, but the number of people likely to be affected was expected to continue to rise. Against that background, the Ministry of Health and Child Care requested support from different partners and the ZRCS responded through a DREF to support communities in two districts of Mwenezi and Gokwe North.

In Mwenezi there is high population density and this at times complicated efforts to control the spread of the disease and provide adequate care for those who were ill. Gokwe North district was also considered to be at high risk due to its location in the Midlands province, which has a high number of reported cases. Quantitative information not available, there has been some reported increased on vaccination from different sources as of March 2023, and as the UNICEF reports, in Mwenezi the village health workers and the volunteers penetrated the hard-to-reach areas, which saw a lot of children getting vaccinated for measles, polio, malaria and other health cases.

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