Let the deaths of the two babies not be in vain

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

It’s hard to escape, let alone ignore the pain and the heartbreak two families are going through today, following the deaths of two one year olds last Friday.

Indeed, the death and loss of a precious life is hard enough. But the loss of two innocent young lives under similar circumstances with the idea that it could have been prevented is even tougher to take.

From what we’ve been told so far, the children were given the M.M.R. vaccine to protect them against measles, mumps, and rubella at Safotu Hospital. Sadly, both reportedly died within minutes of being administered the vaccine. 

What exactly happened no one knows yet. 

But the Ministry of Health has reacted immediately by recalling all measles, mumps and rubella (M.M.R.) vaccines in Samoa. 

What’s more, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, confirmed that they have launched an investigation. 

The Police have also become involved since the families have filed criminal complaints against the health workers involved, who have also had to be relocated for their safety.

We understand that this is a very difficult time for the families involved. We don’t want to pretend we know what it feels like because we don’t know. We can only imagine the pain and suffering though and we want to say that we share your pain and hurt today. 

Even Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has shared the families’ grief in a touching and timely media statement he issued on Monday night.

Reads Tuilaepa’s statement: “I have not been fully briefed concerning the circumstances leading up to the death of the two innocent young children who passed away reportedly after the young boy and girl were administered vaccination injections at a District Hospital in Savai’i last Friday.”

“But it will not detain me from reiterating a message of sympathy and condolences to the parents and families. 

“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal. And I can imagine that there is no pain more far reaching and deeper than losing a child. My heart and prayers go out to the grieving families at this most difficult time. To that effect, I humbly extend my deepest sympathy, condolences and pray that comfort and peace will come to them.”

“As a grandfather and father, I can relate to the grief by the families for their loss. I also almost lost one of my grandsons several years ago under similar circumstances.”

“But with the Grace of our Father in Heaven my grandson survived with the proper treatment but he will never be the same as he has lost the ability to speak. As Prime Minister, I have called a full inquiry into the circumstances leading up to this devastating incident which I do not take lightly.”

We acknowledge with gratitude Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s sensitivity in his reaction to this matter. 

This without a doubt will go a long way towards helping the families find some peace and solace during this very tough times.

But perhaps the most important thing to have come from Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s statement is the Government immediately ordering a full inquiry into the deaths. 

There is no doubt that this obviously has come as a massive shock to the community, especially since the administration of this vaccine, has been part of ongoing regular health programmes for as long as we can remember. 

Are the deaths of the two babies the first cases linked to this vaccine? Well who knows? We can tell you that there have been other suspected cases apparently triggered by these injections. 

 Which is why we welcome the initiation of a full inquiry into this matter. 

If negligence on the part of health workers was a factor, let them be dealt with accordingly.

But if there is something far more serious – and sinister about these vaccines – now is the time to find out and make a quality decision to avoid a repeat.  Let the deaths of these two young infants not be in vain. 

Have a wonderful Wednesday Samoa, God bless!

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