HEALTH experts are concerned that government might be “hiding” statistics on measles cases and fatalities after the Health and Child ministry suddenly stopped releasing information on the disease. The ministry has not also announced whether the disease was now under control or not. Government last released the statistics on September 4 when measles deaths topped 698.
Health and Child Care ministry spokesperson Donald Mujiri, however, said the ministry was not hiding any statistics.
“It’s not true that we don’t have enough equipment to trace the disease. We are not announcing any statistics because we don’t have any cases yet. We will release the information in due course,” Mujiri said on Thursday when contacted for comment.
But health experts, who spoke to NewsDay Weekender, said government might be failing to release the latest measles statistics due to lack of equipment to monitor the disease.
Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe president Johannes Marisa said there were few laboratories with resources to trace the disease.
“Measles is supposed to be diagnosed with measles polymerase chain reaction, of which very few laboratories are actually running that here in Zimbabwe,” Marisa said. “We still have religious sects like the Marange, which do not report to hospitals. So this is quite misleading. Whatever figures that we are going to get about the deaths are misleading.
“It is not reflective of what is happening because we have a lot of undocumented cases. Measles needs a much-specialised eye to make a diagnosis of measles.”
Zimbabwe Nurses Association president Enock Dongo said government should release information on the latest measles statistics to prevent more deaths.
“As experts, we are saying to the government there is no benefit of not releasing timeously and frequently the statistics of what is happening in the country. Rather, there are more disadvantages of that because citizens should be aware of the current problems that a country is facing,” Dongo said.
“It will also push the apostolic sectors, which do not want to vaccinate their children. Statistics have to come out without any fear or favour so that we (immediately) manage this disease.”