Government says religious and cultural values are contributing to the country’s failure to reach universal goal on health.

Health officials say hundreds of children have died in recent years after their parents failed to have them immunised, citing strict religious beliefs. Measles have been the biggest killer.

Some members of the apostolic churches shun most forms of western medicine in the belief that it diminishes their supernatural powers.

At one point a leader of a Johane Masowe Chishanu Apostolic Sect in Gutu was accused of brutally assaulting an armed policewoman who tried to convince him to get his seven children immunised against the seven child killer diseases.

“In the health ministry we have been working on strategies on how to reach the hard to reach and we have discovered that so of the things which makes people hard to reach is not just geographical location, but we do have other functional and other access issues for example our cultural and religious  values which are good in some ways  but in other ways the impede people from  accessing  health services  because they say they do not believe or they are not allowed ,but also some of the  religious  affiliations ,” Epidemiology and Disease Control Director  Portia Manangazira bemoaned on Wednesday.

Dr Manangazira said of major concern is lack of acceptance to immunization by religious and cultural sect.

“These programs depend on how many people have been actually vaccinated so that we do not spark outbreaks and I am highlighting that because measles   is one of the key indicators in the MDGs. It does not matter you have reach a lot of children if there is a pool of children they will spark an outbreak,” Dr Managazira added.

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