Stop pretending there is no problem!

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Dear Editor

I read with total disbelief the story “Health chief assuages fears” dated 28th January which has the Director General of the Ministry of Health telling us “there is nothing to worry about”. What planet is he on?

As someone in a highly influential position in health, surely the Director General must be aware of the global spread of this virus, its debilitating risks to pregnant women and its potential to move with alarming speed to our shores. If there have been three reported cases of this virus then that does not mean we have nothing to worry about! I believe the only accurate way of confirming the existence of the virus in a patient here is to have their blood tested overseas (apparently we do not have the facility to carry out these tests here in Samoa). 

Those who are currently sick with the symptoms of this virus who either cannot afford to see the doctor to have their blood tested or feel they can sit tight and wait the virus out, they represent an important “unconfirmed” percentage of the country who could be unknowingly carrying the Zika virus and spreading it further amongst the community.

For the Director General to say “the number of Zika virus cases was nowhere near the level that was reached by the Chikungunya virus” and “There is a big gap” is completely idiotic! 

Of course three currently reported (or confirmed) cases of Zika will appear to be small compared to the eventual number of Chikingunya case! What a completely silly comparison to make!

Whilst I commend the Director General for reminding us that”members of the public still need to be alert to make sure their families are protected” and  “Our advice to people is to make sure their homes are mosquito free” he still tells us “there is nothing to be alarmed about” 

 

REALLY?. 

Now I am not a health professional nor specialist in mosquito-borne viral diseases but I believe I am not stupid. Without wanting to sound unnecessary alarm bells to the general public of Samoa, I really think the Ministry of Health should be doing more than just pretending there is no problem. Why can’t the Ministry start a proactive campaign now to help highlight and raise awareness of this virus? Radio announcements, public TV notices, information prices in the local newspapers on what the potential is and how the public can help reduce the risks of Zika are responsible and effective measures to help beat this thing before it gets too big. Announcements in schools and in large work places too.

C’mon Director General, please stop treating us all like dummies over this. How about taking some proactive responsibility and have the Ministry start informing Samoa on what this virus is, how it can affect us and what we can all do to prevent it happening?

Whether you agree or not, there is a very real global threat upon us right now. What we all need right now is the help and guidance of the Ministry.

Sadly, the only threat greater than the virus itself right now, is the carefree and condescending attitude of the Director General.

 

Peka Faletasi


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