Published Date: 2010-10-22 14:10:09
Subject: PRO/EAFR> Measles - Africa (36): Zimbabwe
Archive Number: 20101023.214413
MEASLES - AFRICA (36): ZIMBABWE
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Wed 20 Oct 2010
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation AlertNet, International Medical
Corps - USA report [edited]
After nearly a country-wide measles epidemic left more than 500 people dead, International Medical Corps (IMC) joined forces with other global donors and organizations to help support Zimbabwe's
Ministry of Health and Child Welfare (MOHCW) in launching a nationwide immunization campaign and survey of affected areas. The initiative was a response to the recurring measles outbreak that
began in September 2009 and quickly spread to 59 of the country's 62 districts. "Nearly 10 percent of all infections were fatal," says Dr Marco Cernuschi, public health coordinator for International Medical Corps in Zimbabwe. "This is a figure that far exceeds the emergency threshold for a preventable disease like measles and exemplifies the tremendous public health needs in Zimbabwe."
The immunization campaign covered between 83 and 100 percent of children across all provinces. However, reports of sporadic outbreaks still exist, particularly in areas where communities resist modern medical treatment. While MOHCW continues to investigate the causes of the continuous outbreaks, International Medical Corps conducted a survey in Mbire, one of the 5 districts that suffered an outbreak just last month [September 2010].
In its assessment, International Medical Corps found major hurdles to ongoing vaccination campaigns. Nearly all of the clinics surveyed in Mbire, for instance, had the full complement of vaccines needed to immunize against measles. However, International Medical Corps found all health facilities to be dependent on gas-operated refrigerators to maintain the cold chain for the vaccines, something many clinics could not afford.
"Gas is an ongoing challenge for many of these facilities and, without it, there cannot be cold chain," says Cernuschi. "For one, there is no reliable vehicle in Mbire district to replenish gas and then, even if there was, it would have to travel at least 200 km [124 mi] to reach the closest fueling station." Following the survey, International Medical Corps committed to repair and supply fuel in 2 vehicles in Mbire and Mt Darwin, another of the affected districts. "Having functional vehicles will help Ministry staff move throughout the area to monitor the outbreak," says Cernuschi. International Medical Corps is also assisting in the responses to measles outbreaks that occurred this past month [September 2010] in the districts of Mazowe, Mt Darwin, Rushinga, and Centenary.
HealthMap Alerts via ProMED-EAFR
[Vaccine potency is critical to all immunisation programmes if they are to be successful. The current report indicates an impressive measles immunisation coverage during the recent campaigns in response to the countrywide measles outbreaks. However the impressive coverage is threatened by cold chain failures as indicated in the report, hence threatening community confidence in the program. This critical gap therefore needs to be solved promptly, preferably by setting up a national system that replenishes gas reserves at all static immunisation clinics to ensure that the vaccine cold chain is not compromised.
A map showing the administrative regions of Zimbabwe can be accessed
The HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map of Zimbabwe can be accessed
athttp://healthmap.org/r/00aK. - Mod.JFW]