Commission of Inquiry into deaths begins

By Deidre Tautua-Fanene ,

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Counsels assisting are Tafailagi Peniamina (right) and Violina Leilua (left) from the Office of the Attorney General. Photo: Deidre Fanene.

Counsels assisting are Tafailagi Peniamina (right) and Violina Leilua (left) from the Office of the Attorney General. Photo: Deidre Fanene.

A Commission of Inquiry looking into the death of two toddlers in July this year following their vaccination has started.

The inquiry is chaired by Tuiloma Neroni Slade and assisted by Commission members Leo’o Dr. John Adams and Lealaiauloto Liai Iosefa-Siitia. Counsels assisting are Tafailagi Peniamina and Violina Leilua from the Office of the Attorney General.

The National Health Services (N.H.S.) fronted the Inquiry with the General Manager, Palanitina Tupuimatagi Toelupe, Dr. Ulugia Tito Kamu and legal advisor Susannah Leota representing the organisation. 

Ms. Peniamina told the hearing that the focus of the Inquiry is to investigate the deaths of the two babies following their mumps, measles and rubella (M.M.R.) vaccination and to make a determination on the following: (1) standards and procedures within the Ministry of Health and or the district hospital (where the babies were vaccinated) for the administration of M.M.R. vaccinations; (2) procedures specifically relating to the administration and injection of the M.M.R. vaccination to the second baby who died notwithstanding the absence of parental consent to the same; and (3) whether there were any discrepancies in the administration of the M.M.R. vaccinations to the two babies in question, in line with the current health and medical procedures in place.

Palanitina, in a submission on behalf of the N.H.S. to the inquiry, said they will be able to assist the Inquiry on the first and second questions but not the one in relation to alleged discrepancies.  

“At this stage the Service respectfully seeks the Commission’s indulgence with refraining from answering the said question, as the criminal matter with relating to this case is therefore before the court.

“The service will be happy to answer the questions from each’s perspective when the Commission next sits upon the completion of the criminal matter. However, the remainder of the Commission of Inquiry questions, the service will now to move to answering questions 1 and 2 that have set out.

“Question one is the standards and procedures within the Ministry of Health and/or the District Hospital (where the babies were vaccinated) for the administration of MMR vaccinations; 

“The immunization programme administered by the National Health Service is a national program across all of Samoa, through its district and national hospitals. Moreover, the Service confirms that the processes and procedures used in the effective district hospital are those used nation ride.”

The Commission continues.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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