All churches must ensure their members get their children vaccinated against diseases such as measles and polio, President Mnangagwa has said.
This comes as the current measles outbreak has claimed at least 350 people in Manicaland since the outbreak of the highly contagious disease early this year.
The President also implored youths to refrain from drugs and substance abuse which has become rampant across the country.
Government recently approved a multi-disciplinary and a multi-sectoral approach to arrest the situation.
Addressing the oversubscribed Mutasa South victory celebrations at Beaulieu Primary School last week on Saturday where he also commissioned two classroom blocks and a computer lab, the President said while the ruling party enjoyed a cordial working relationship with churches, there was no excuse for denying children access to vaccinations.
Zanu PF’s Cde Misheck Mugadza reclaimed the Mutasa South seat from Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC)’s Mr Regai Tsunga during the March 26 by-elections.
“There are so many churches in the country and we work very well with them, especially the indigenous ones which preach the gospel of unity and love. There is no church which we say is bigger than the other, even those with foreign origins.
“While we work well with the indigenous churches, we tend to disagree with them over the issue of seeking medical attention for their children. Tinozongopesana kana vati havajungwi, tinoti kwavari ah-ah, jungwai. We want lives to be saved regardless of your religious beliefs,” said President Mnangagwa.
Following the outbreak of measles in Mutasa District early this year, the virus has since spread across the country.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care has since rolled out a nationwide measles vaccination programme targeting 95 percent of all children between the ages of six months and five years in order to attain a herd immunity.
Manicaland has recorded more than 3 000 measles cases and more than 350 deaths since the first case was recorded in Mutasa in March.
A Honde Valley family in Mutasa District lost seven children to the disease within a month after failing to seek medical attention citing religious beliefs.
While Zimbabwe is still battling to contain measles, cases of polio have now been detected in neighbouring Mozambique and Malawi and the Health and Child Care is set to roll out an immunisation blitz against polio in the coming weeks.
In a recent statement, president of the Council of Indigenous Churches of Africa (CICA), Apostle Golden Zininga urged all church leaders to preach the word of vaccination among their congregants.
“I was very much saddened by the death toll from a measles outbreak in Zimbabwe which has risen to more than 700 children within a short period of time. I hereby encourage all our member churches and the general population of Zimbabwe to ensure that our children are vaccinated against all killer diseases such as measles and polio which are slowly becoming epidemic.
“Bishops, pastors and all church leaders let us preach the word of vaccination to save the children. Together we can build a health Zimbabwe,” said Apostle Zininga.
CICA is an ecumenical umbrella body for all indigenous churches, a regulatory authority as well as a spiritual and physical empowerment agency for all churches in Africa.
Turning to drugs and substance abuse among youths during his address at the Mutasa victory celebrations, President Mnangagwa condemned the growing scourge saying this retards development.
“As Government, we are worried about drug and substance abuse among youths. No development will be realised when we have drunkards among our youths. Our children should stop abusing drugs.
‘‘They should find better things to do and develop their lives, families and communities. They should come together and come up with projects that we will fund. There are plenty of opportunities in this country,” said the President.
In the short term, Government will deal with the scourge of substance abuse through the operationalisation of the Zimbabwe National Drug Master Plan (ZNDMP 2020 to 2025) as well as the Treatment and Rehabilitation Guidelines of Alcohol and Substance Use Disorder of Zimbabwe (TRGASUD ZIM).
Government is also working on identifying and upgrading existing mental health institutions that can admit affected people until they have recovered, including a dedicated child psychiatric hospital in each province.
Community based initiatives, including parent and patient support groups, family clubs and faith-based organisations, are also being established.
The family support structures and facilities are expected to cushion the immediate and extended family from the effects of their loved ones’ drug abuse.
Government is also establishing a national call centre for drug and substance abuse which will provide online psycho-social support and related information for the people of Zimbabwe.