File picture: AP
File picture: AP
Measles infection timeline. Picture: Independent Media
Measles infection timeline. Picture: Independent Media
DURBAN - The Muslim Judicial Council of South Africa’s Fatwa Committee has called on parents to vaccinate their children against measles in the wake of an outbreak across the country.

While cases have been reported in Gauteng, Western Cape, North West, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Limpopo, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health said it had not received any reports of cases.

The council issued a statement saying that in Islam, the use of medicine to combat disease was encouraged.

“The decision to use medication is not an obligation. Therefore the position of those who prefer not to use medicine at all is respected.

“By the same token, equal respect should be given to those who opt to use medicinal means to prevent or combat disease. When a disease holds the potential of reaching pandemic proportions, the use of preventative medication becomes emphasised as a social and not just a personal responsibility,” the committee said.

The committee further said the council’s Fuqaha (Islamic scholars) have ruled that where three conditions were satisfied, the use of impure substances as medicine is warranted.

The three reasons given were: a lack of viable alternatives, proven efficiency of the medicine, and obliteration of the impure substances to the point of untraceability.

According to statistics released by the Centre for Communicable Diseases, there have been 17 registered cases of measles in Gauteng between March and April this year.

The Western Cape reported 31 cases between January and February, while there were four cases in the North West province, and just one case each in the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

In Gauteng, the Health Department has embarked on a vaccination programme in schools and crèches to prevent further break-outs.

KZN Health Department spokesperson Sam Mkhwanazi said: “Although KZN has not had an outbreak of measles, the department will embark on a national measles mass vaccination campaign from June 12-30.

“This campaign targets children aged from 6-59 months, and its aim is to vaccinate at least 95% of eligible children in all districts. This is a free additional vaccination dose to protect the children from contacting measles.

“In addition to this campaign, all the districts will conduct their catch-up drives to reach those children who missed their immunisations, to improve the coverage.

“Officials from the department will visit schools, crèches, and daycare centres to conduct the vaccinations.

“Once the campaign starts, parents are urged to send their children to school with the Road to Health booklet since this vaccination must be recorded on the booklet.

“Those who don’t have the booklet can still be vaccinated.”

Daily News