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Zimbabwean Apostolic Sects Promise to Cooperate With National Immunization Drive

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's spokesman James Maridadi said the apostolic sect leaders who attended the high-level meeting agreed to work with the government to make sure that their children are vaccinated

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday received assurances from leaders of apostolic faith sects that they will cooperate with the Ministry of Health and international partners to see that their children are immunized against measles and other diseases in a forthcoming campaign, a spokesman for the prime minister said.

Mr. Tsvangirai called the high-level meeting on immunization to engage apostolic faith sect leaders aiming to persuade take part in the national immunization campaign set to begin on Monday and run through June 2. The United Nations has provided US$5.6 million to help the country vaccinate an estimated 5 million children.

The immunization summit was also attended by representatives of the United Nations Children's Fund, the World Health Organization, the Ministry of Health and traditional chiefs.

Tsvangirai spokesman James Maridadi told VOA Studio 7 reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that the different apostolic sect leaders present agreed to work with the government to make sure that their children are vaccinated.

Health workers will vaccinate children between the ages of six months and 15 years against a range of diseases - in particular measles which has claimed more than 300 lives since September of last year. Outbreaks of measles spread in part because of religious objections to immunization by members of the apostolic sects.

UNICEF nutrition specialist Thokozile Ncube, who attended the immunization summit, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Brenda Moyo that the meeting was an eye-opener and very productive.