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Vaccination: Botswana, Bazezuru refuse polio immunisation

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Bazezuru refuse polio immunisation

CHENJELANI BARAEDI
5/11/2004 10:30:18 PM (GMT +2)
SOurce: Mmegi Online

FRANCISTOWN: Members of the Bazezuru community have refused to immunize their children against polio, maintaining that it was against their religion.

“Although this matter is a national issue which needs collaboration from everyone, we are faced with a lot of problems from the Bazezuru. We reported the matter to the matron at the council chambers who tried to persuade them but in vain,” said Sandra Masuo who led a team of immunisers.

Masuo said that in one yard their team found 11 children who qualified for the vaccination but their parents refused to have them take part in the exercise. Masuo, who is a family welfare educator at Kagiso Clinic said they have always experienced a lot of resistance from the Bazezuru community who prefer to do without modern health technology.

She said that all they believe in is prayer. The fear of the contagious poliovirus is none of their concern.

“Even the children have no medical cards and never go to clinics. We understand they are born at home and none of them is allowed to go to the clinic,” said the educator adding that all the Bazezuru, especially those who attend church, have refused to take part in the exercise, which is supposed to be compulsory.

Fari Panganai, a member of the sect, said that it was true the Bazezuru were religious people who are not affected by the virus. He said prophets in their church had long ago predicted the coming of the poliovirus and the affected age group has received befitting prayers.

He said, “It is not that we are against what the government has said, but our custom in church does not allow this. We feel we can take care of our children on our own and nothing can harm them.”

Panganai also pointed out that according to their custom none of them should seek medical attention elsewhere except in church. He said none of them have medical cards and never visit clinics or hospitals.

“We don’t go to clinics. Our wives give birth at home and never experience any problems. It’s our custom and it is working well for us,” he said.

Panganai who was speaking infront of a group of women in his yard said that even the government is aware that their beliefs are against new medical technology.

“The government of this country is aware of our custom. They know that we don’t go to school or to clinics,” Panganai revealed.

The Senior District Medical Officer at the city council, Dr Harry Thuku said his office was aware of the Bazezeru position but said that they were going to meet the community and address them. Thuku said what they heard is that the men were not at home hence the women could not make a decision. He however warned that if anyone does not honour the campaign, legal action would be taken against them.

Meanwhile the mayor of Francistown, Peter Ngoma said whether Bazezuru honour the campaign or not is none of his business. “There is a Member of Parliament for Francistown West and he is the one who can comment,” Ngoma said.

The anti-polio campaign started this week after a case of the poliovirus was detected at Maun hospital last month



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