More deaths in Samoa measles epidemic

Henrietta Strickland
November 29, 2019

"This latest package of support includes funding a further 100,000 Measles and Rubella vaccines and a machine to support oxygen production to help meet the unprecedented demand for oxygen in Samoan hospitals".

Director General of Health, Leausa Dr Take Naseri, said more children needed to be reached.

UNICEF are world-leaders with emergency response.

The country has dispatched teams to help district hospitals, he said, and was receiving assistance from Australia, New Zealand and French Polynesia, as well as guidance from the WHO.

"We had to be certain about what is already being provided and what more we could be doing before asking New Zealander for donations". An additional 54,000 doses of the MR vaccine will be making its way to Apia in the next week. However overstretched medical companies are struggling to comprise the outbreak.

Factfile on measles, a highly contagious disease. The virus can be contracted by someone up to two hours after an infected person has left a room.

Low vaccination rates have allowed the disease to spread rapidly and infect thousands in a matter of weeks.

"If you have relatives who aren't vaccinated encourage them to vaccinate, it is so successful and if people get it early it saves unnecessarily suffering".

November 15 - Samoan Government declares a state of emergency for the measles outbreak.

The government said the number of fatalities had climbed to 39 and the total number of infections was 2,936, up 250 in a 24-hour period.

In an effort to stem the infectious disease's transmission, the government declared a state of emergency on November 15 and initiated a mandatory vaccination program for priority groups, including children and women of childbearing age who aren't pregnant. Schools have been closed and children under the age of 17 have been banned from public gatherings.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters says New Zealand is also looking to provide psychological support for health workers.

To fight the outbreak, the Samoan government has made measles vaccination a legal requirement, and Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga of American Samoa has ordered that everyone traveling from Samoa and Tonga to American Samoa have to possess proof of their measles vaccination before they can enter.

New Zealand Red Cross has a long history of working closely with Red Cross National Societies in the Pacific through capacity building, knowledge sharing, pre-positioning of relief items and disaster response activities.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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