News / Africa

Zimbabwe Investigates Adverse Effects from Immunizations

Newborn babies are seen in a government hospital in Harare, July 19, 2011.Newborn babies are seen in a government hospital in Harare, July 19, 2011.
x
Newborn babies are seen in a government hospital in Harare, July 19, 2011.
Newborn babies are seen in a government hospital in Harare, July 19, 2011.
TEXT SIZE - +
HARARE — The Zimbabwe government has begun an investigation into reports of severe adverse effects - including deaths - from an immunization program against polio and measles it conducted last month.  On Friday, Henry Madzorera, Zimbabwe’s health minister, said the program was important because it cuts down the number of childhood deaths from these diseases.

Zimbabwean Health Minister Henry Madzorera attributed the negative physical reactions some children have to vaccinations to malnutrition, among other factors.  He also said the children may already have other diseases when they get vaccinated.
 
"Zimbabwe has among the highest maternal and child death rates in the world," said Madzorera.  "So some events are coincidental due to the high frequency of child deaths, but also child morbidity.  However, vaccination remains a key intervention in giving a child a chance of life. But the frequency and magnitude of adverse events becomes higher on these children who are already sick."

In Zimbabwe, vaccination of children has in the past met with resistance from some parents, who say their children became ill after getting the shots.

The June vaccination program sponsored by the United Nations children's agency (UNICEF) and Japan drew attention when a child died in Masvingo, about 300 kilometers south of Harare.

Deputy Health Minister Douglas Mombeshora confirmed the death and suggested other factors, not just the vaccination, may have caused the death.

“The child was severely malnourished," said Mombeshora.  "We also discovered that the parents were on ART [AIDS] therapy. The parents had not come to say they are on treatment.  That they are on treatment and the low weight on the child [was] mostly likely [because] the child was HIV positive.”

It remains to be seen if skeptical parents will listen to such an explanation and expose their children to immunization programs.

UNICEF procured the immunization drugs after receiving funding from the Japanese government.

Peter Salama, the head of UNICEF in Harare, also says that many children are sick from other diseases when they get vaccinated to prevent measles and polio.   He says the vaccines are safe.

"Some of those children are already sick," Salama explained.  "They have diarrhea, particularly in winter months, they have respiratory infections.  Parents associate vaccination with their illness, so much of these reports turn out to be coincidental. We only procure WHO pre-qualified vaccines.  That is the case for Zimbabwe and for other countries in the world. "
 
The week-long immunization program in June vaccinated against polio and measles and targeted more than two million children. With official figures showing that 100 children die every day in Zimbabwe, the immunization program is seen as the most cost-effective way to reduce child illness and child mortality.

Zimbabwe's healthcare sector fell into complete disorder several years ago, after years of political turmoil and the collapse of the economy. Now, thanks to international agencies such as UNICEF and WHO, there seems to be some recovery.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid