UNICEF country representative in Zimbabwe Dr Peter Salaam hailed members of the Apostolic faith- based ministries who traditionally shun the immunization program for responding positively.

“Well, l was particularly impressed by the level of attendance and acceptance of the program from the faith-based communities across the country. That’s a real breakthrough,” Salaam told journalist at a press briefing on immunisation held at the Ministry of Health offices in Harare recently.

Members of the Apostolic faith believe in divine healing for all forms of sickness and disease. This message is repeatedly preached to the church’s members, encouraging them to obey the message religiously throughout their lives. They are to rely on the holy water (muteuro) and prayers from the church elders to cure illnesses and diseases. It’s a tradition that has been handed down from generation to generation within the church.

The radical sects believe conventional medicine is evil. Members who seek modern medical care risk punishment from church leaders including suspension or excommunication.

Members are prohibited from seeking treatment in hospitals or taking conventional medicine when they fall ill.

Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Douglas Mombeshora concurred with Salaam adding that they have registered a decline in the death of the children among the sects. “We don’t have the exact figures but there was improved response compared to last time. So it means they are also going to the routine immunisations. If they respond well on national call like this we hope that they will also respond well during the routine immunisation. There are no more outbreaks within their sects which means they are covered with the immunization program.”

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