Apostolic sect joins fight against measles

Harare, Zimbabwe - THE Johanne Marange Apostolic Church has made a major shift in quitting a more than five decade belief by joining the nation in the ongoing expanded programme on the fight against measles and Vitamin A deficiency for children between the ages of six months to 59 months.

Mrs Irene Mwedziwendira of Nyahukwe Village in Makoni District and a member of the Johanne Marange Apostolic sect, said the church had noted that immunisation of children against the seven killer diseases was important to the health and welfare of the children.

"The Johanne Marange sect has realised that if you fail to immunise your children against the killer diseases, they will die or might get deformed or impaired as they grow up.

"So we have also joined the nation in the immunisation of our children. As a religious sect, we realised that we cannot fight against blindness, measles and polio while these are a reality that can affect our children.

"We cannot be happy Christians if we deny our children the right to modern health care," she said. The Johanne Marange sect previously did not allow its members to get treatment from hospitals and clinics citing religious dictates.

This posed problems with health officials when it came to campaigns against disease outbreaks and programmes on immunisation in the country. The overseer of the Union for Development of Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe Africa, Bishop Zechariah Tagwirei, recently said apostolic church followers were moving away from a tradition that did not allow followers to seek treatment from hospitals.

He said apostolic church followers who did not immunise children against deadly diseases or send sick family members for treatment should be prosecuted.

Mrs Mwedziwendira brought her eight-month-old twins, Praise and Patience, for demonstration that the sect lived up to its word. The twins were given a dose of 100 000 international units of Vitamin A supplementation in view of excited witnesses.

"I have brought my twins for immunisation because we are rallying behind the Government in the fight against child morbidity and mortality by the year 2015," she said. Meanwhile, the Governor for Manicaland province, Cde Tinaye Chigudu, expressed gratitude to the sect for embracing the initiative.

"We are happy when such initiatives and demonstrations are taken within the province as it brings to the fore an ever increasing need to improve children’s health in line with the fourth Millennium Development Goal for the reduction of child mortality," he said.