A measles outbreak has claimed the lives of 70 children in Zimbabwe over the past two weeks, mostly among families from apostolic sects that shun vaccinations, state media said Thursday.
"We have started receiving reports of deaths due to a suspected measles outbreak (last) Tuesday and the numbers are continuing to grow," health ministry disease control director Portia Manangazira was quoted as saying by the state-run daily, The Herald.
"The persistent refusal (of immunisations) by some segments of society means these closed communities have large numbers of unvaccinated children," Manangazira said.
Members of some apostolic sects in the country shun vaccinations and all other forms of Western medicine, saying it contradicts their belief in supernatural powers.
Martin Dinha, governor of Mashonaland Central province, one of the areas affected by the outbreak, said the government's response has been slow.
"I am not happy with the response from the ministry of health to this issue," Dinha told The Herald.
"No intervention has so far been done by health officials, yet we alerted them of the outbreak."
Measles is a highly contagious viral respiratory infection that causes high fever, skin rash, runny nose, watery eyes and cough.
The disease mostly affects children under the age of five.