Hunger stalls mass vaccination

HARARE - Zimbabwe’s mass drug administration (MDA) programme to rid the country of elephantiasis, bilharzia and intestinal worms has seen many people suffer from after effects after taking the medication without eating proper meals, the Daily News has learnt.

The most affected are those hit by hunger in most drought-stricken areas where food is limited, with many collapsing after taking the drugs.

Speaking to the media on the side-lines of the Results-Based Financing Global workshop in Harare this week, Health ministry permanent secretary Gerald Gwinji admitted it was a “delicate situation”.

“(But) the strategies around giving MDA are very locally-based and those who are administering this programme know the circumstances of their communities.  It is encouraged that in the unfortunate circumstances where perhaps a few elderly persons do not have food, communities work together to provide,” he said.

The programme has generated mixed reactions from the public who believe the exercise has not been publicised enough.

This has opened the way for social media to conjure up different theories on what the vaccinations prevent with extremists going on to suggest that the medication can be used as contraceptives.

In a statement, the Health ministry lashed out at social media abusers and warned the public against peddling “negative, false and damaging messages” concerning the MDA programme currently underway throughout the country.

“Please be advised that the three drugs being used for the mass treatment exercise include Dihydroethylcarbamazine, Praziquantel and Albendazole meant to treat elephantiasis (lymphatic filariasis), bilharzia and Intestinal worms respectively,” the statement reads.

“These medicines are safe for all and they are not used as contraceptives as what is being purported on the social media. The medicines have been prequalified by World Health Organisation and have been tested and verified by the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe.”

Lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, is caused by parasitic worms of the roundworm family that cause extreme swelling in the arms and legs.

Bilharzia is a human disease caused by parasitic worms called Schistosomes. Over one billion humans are at risk worldwide and approximately 300 million are infected.

Intestinal worms are parasites in the gastrointestinal tract, primarily on the intestinal wall, that affect people and other organisms.

Comments (1)

Hi - please correct - these are drugs not vaccinations! And the WHO states they should be taken with food and should not be given to weak people or to people who are very ill from other diseases

Anouk - 26 September 2016

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