N.Z. aids measles fight

The New Zealand Government has answered the call to help Samoa respond to the burgeoning measles crisis by providing medical aid in the form of nurses, vaccines, and face masks.

The Foreign Minister Vaovasamanaia Winston Peters confirmed that the Government had responded to a request for assistance from the Samoan Government as the number of suspected measles cases grows to reach 718 people in a media statement. 

“New Zealand is providing 3000 measles, mumps and rubella (M.M.R.) vaccines and 12 nurses to assist in containing a serious and growing measles outbreak,” said Vaovasamanaia.

The nurses will begin arriving next Wednesday Vaovasamanaia said and they will focus on administering vaccines with additional staff flown in on a rotating basis. 

“Measles is highly contagious, and the outbreak has taken lives in Samoa. It is everybody’s interests that we work together to stop its spread," the Foreign Minister said. 

“The vaccines are undergoing final clearance to arrive in Samoa next week," Vaovasamanaia said. 

"New Zealand has already responded to earlier requests from Samoa for medical supplies, and for pharmaceutical refrigerators which are essential to preserving the efficacy of vaccines," Vaovasamanaia said.

The provision of refrigerators comes after the Samoa Observer revealed that limited refrigeration provisions at Safotu hospital had led to a problem for storing vaccines on the big island.

Associate Minister of Health, Tofa Li’o Foleni, said earlier this week that Safotu hospital management teams had identified the lack of coldf storage as preventing the administering of vaccines, which led to large queues when shipments arrived and completely vacant hospital clinics once consignments had expired.

Tofa said on Wednesday they had successfully vaccinated 6000 people in Savaii but issues such as refrigeration were providing a bottleneck that was slowing efforts to vaccinate the broader island.  

“Supplies to Samoa have included face masks, gowns, hand sanitiser and stretcher beds, and vaccination fridges," Vaovasamanaia said. 

In responses to Samoa Observer’s questions, a spokesperson from New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said they had procured a new consignment of fridges which are believed to have arrived in Samoa yesterday. 

“New Zealand is working with the Government of Samoa around providing further assistance, which may include supplies and personnel," the spokesperson said. 

“New Zealand is committed to continuing to assist the Government of Samoa’s response.”

The Director General of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri stated in a press conference last Thursday that there is assistance coming into Samoa from overseas countries such as Australia providing medical health officials.

Last Sunday Australia provided a mobile team to provide assistance composed of a team leader, paediatrician, epidemiologist, and logistician. They are also renovating certain hospitals in order to provide them effective isolation wards and Intensive Care Units. 


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