Baby died from heart disease, not vaccine – Ministry of Health

The death of a baby at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole National Hospital on Monday triggered fears negligent vaccination practices claimed another life, but the Ministry of Health (M.O.H.) quickly dispelled social media reports to say the infant had a pre-existing heart condition.

A relative of the deceased infant posted on her Facebook page, blaming the bay's death on the country's controversial vaccination programme. 

But the M.O.H. Deputy Director General (clinical services), Tevaga Dr. Ponifasio Ponifasio told the Samoa Observer that the claim is false as the baby had congenital heart disease – which was a pre-existing medical condition - and they could not save her. 

He said the hospital is cleared of any wrongdoing and added the hospital staff did their best despite the baby's failing condition. 

“The baby was a very sick child since birth with congenital heart disease, respiratory distress and sepsis," he said.

"Despite sophisticated  treatment in the special intensive care unit the poor baby did not survive.

“The news about the baby dying from the vaccination is very wrong. 

"We’re sad as this has caused majority of the parents to doubt the hospital but nothing like this happened at all.”

The infant baby was a twin of a 20-year-old mother, who cannot be identified and was aware of her child's deteriorating condition at that time, as informed by the doctors.

The child was declared dead shortly after 7.00am on Monday after doctors attempted to save the baby's life for seven hours.  

In a Facebook post, a relative of the infant's mother said: “This is my cousins’ baby. She was alive the whole week until the doctors vaccinated her and made her die."

Although she removed her post from the social media platform, a lot of people had already shared it across the country, triggering a public outcry directed at the hospital. 

The social media furore followed the jailing last Friday of nurses, Luse Emo Tauvale and Leutogi Te’o, on charges of negligent manslaughter relating to the death of two babies. The deceased were two one-year-olds: a boy, Lannah Samuelu of Sasina and a girl, Lameko Siu of Safotu Savai’i.

Speaking to this newspaper at the hospital, 44-year-old mother Katalina Metotia – who is a guardian of her sick husband – urged the authorities to clarify the situation.  

“I reckon every parent who have already heard about this are pretty scared right now, and all we want to hear is some good news saying all of these are just false accusations,” she said.

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