Prominent New Zealand-based Samoan lawyer, Leuluaiali’i Olinda Woodroffe, has written to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, to raise her concerns about the outbreak of typhoid fever among the Samoan community in Auckland, New Zealand.
She has urged Tuilaepa to act immediately to avoid the outbreak reaching epidemic proportion in Samoa like it did with the Spanish flu.
The letter, dated 6 April 2017, follows the death of a Samoan woman in Auckland from the typhoid.
The Sunday Samoan understands a number of Samoans are among the people confirmed with typhoid.
This is cause for alarm, according to Leuluaiali’i who had personally called Tuilaepa to speak to him about the issue.
“I confirm that my call to you as Prime Minister of Samoa is to make you aware of the possibility of an outbreak of Typhoid in Samoa, as there is an outbreak in New Zealand and the 15 victims of the outbreak are all Samoans in Auckland,” Leuluaialii wrote.
The lawyer said that the Samoan woman who died had typhoid infection and other health issues.
“The family were never told that the deceased woman had typhoid until the media release was issued after the funeral."
“I am seriously concerned about a possible outbreak of typhoid amongst Samoans including Samoans in Samoa who may have come to New Zealand to attend the funeral and returned without knowing that they are infected."
“Even if no one came from Samoa, we have people travelling to and from New Zealand to Samoa, and some Samoans who are now infected may bring the disease to Samoa.”
Leuluaiali’i accused the Auckland Regional Public Health Service Clinic of being negligent.
“In my view, there has been a clear negligent act by the Auckland Regional Public Health Service Clinic in not letting the members of the family of the woman who died; and in not letting members of the church that she had her funeral service at; and in not informing the public to be vigilant and take extra care, because there is now an outbreak of typhoid, which is serious. We can deal with this issue later."
“Suffice to say, however, that my call is to alert you of a possible outbreak of typhoid in Samoa, and invite you to alert and inform people of Samoa and the medical profession in Samoa to be on alert, to be vigilant and seek help immediately to prevent the spread of this serious disease in Samoa."
“Prevention is better that cure. We do not wish to see an outbreak, as Samoa experienced in the past with the Spanish flu.”
Leuluaiali’i said she would also write to the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Bill English, to express the same concerns.
On Friday, the Director General of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, assured that there is no outbreak of typhoid in Samoa.
Leausa also confirmed the Ministry of Health has not had any official communication with Health officials in New Zealand.
“The only information we have gathered is from the New Zealand media where it states that one Samoan woman has died in a Auckland hospital due to typhoid,” he said.
“No details were given but from what the Auckland public health officials are saying through the media is that they feel it is a local (Auckland) outbreak.”
Leausa said they have written to the New Zealand IHR Focal Point for details on the deceased woman, but they have yet to receive any information.
“We haven’t seen any reports on the deceased travel history or any documentation of her travel to Samoa before we can link it to contracting typhoid while here in Samoa."
“Even now we don’t have a name to start off with."
“So we need more facts before we can comment whether she got the disease while travelling to Samoa or to another place.”
So far, Leausa said there is no formal warning for Samoa on the outbreak in New Zealand.
“But they will inform us as usual if they know the index case is from Samoa.”
Leausa also used the opportunity to advise Samoan people travelling to New Zealand especially to the affected areas where the outbreak has occurred to be alert.
“Those who have been treated were from Mt Roskill, Manurewa and Blockhouse Bay, at this stage."
“We are not sure of the scope of the outbreak so extra precaution should be exercised when travelling to these affected areas."
“Basic hand washing, good personal hygiene, drinking clean and safe water is the best prevention and protection.”