Family demands answers over boy's sudden death

The family of a two-year-old boy from Lauli'i, who died on Monday days after his mother and sister were declared infected with measles, is demanding answers from the Ministry of Health. 

The deceased boy is Itila Tuivale Luamanuvae.

His father, Paulo Tuivale, says he has not been given an explanation for his son's death by doctors or health officials, as two other family members have fallen ill to the epidemic. 

Mr. Tuivale told the Samoa Observer his son was taken to the Moto’otua hospital last Sunday together with his wife, Fa'aoso and twins [a boy and girl] to receive check for measles. 

“My wife and three kids including Itila were taken to be checked for measles but the doctor said that only my wife and one of my children [twin girl] has measles,” he said.

Mr. Tuivale said Itila was diagnosed as not having measles.

“I was very worried because my child had a fever which was one of the symptoms but of course I trusted the doctor’s advice and took Itila home," he said. 

“My wife and children were confined at the hospital. But everything changed when my son started showing signs of a rash on Monday.

“We took him to the hospital on Monday around 5pm but he was later pronounced dead around 8pm on the same night. The sad part was that no doctor came up to us and told us the cause of death for our child.”

The couple was in shock and could hardly take in the news.

“As a father, all I could do was cry upon hearing the news that was my son had passed away and that there was nothing that doctors could to save him," he said. 

“My wife would not let go of his body [Itila] on that night and I tried my best to be strong but it was useless, I never expected something like this to happen.

“No parent would want to lose a child, especially at such a young age. I sometimes wonder what he would be like in the future.”

The father of five said that if only he was admitted to the hospital on the night they came for a check-up maybe then it could have saved his life.

“But I also know that nothing in this world can bring him back, all that is left is to lay his body to rest," he said. 

“Our family has decided to have his funeral on this coming Friday. I was told that my wife and children will be released from the hospital on Thursday and so we will be together as we farewell our son.”

The first round of measles vaccine is available to all children in Samoa over 12 months; the second round is available after 15 months. 

The latest case comes as the Ministry of Health has gone to ground over public statements about the status of a measles epidemic declared last month. 

No statement on the scale of the suspected measles outbreak has been provided since last Wednesday when more than 300 suspected cases were declared.

Director General Leausa Dr. Take Naseri commented to Radio New Zealand on Monday, but queries from the Samoa Observer to the Ministry have gone unanswered, including about Itila's case.

A statement from the Ministry on Wednesday repeated previously announced information about school closures.



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