Village Mayors enforce measles emergency

Village Mayors say they are throwing their support behind a national state of emergency making vaccinations compulsory, as the nation combats the measles epidemic spreading across the country. 

Toamua village Mayor, Pagamalie Leuo Leta, told the Samoa Observer, that  the village council is constantly carrying out awareness programmes in the village about how to stop the spread of measles. 

“We are constantly informing parents, especially with the spread of measles, we have all put in on sharing the role of spreading information,” he said.

“What we are doing right now is encouraging all parents to vaccinate their children, and this has been said to be compulsory by law in the future, which makes our work a lot more important.”

Pagamalie has pledged his full support to achieving widespread immunisation coverage across Samoa.  

The only challenge posed to the work of the Toamua, the village Mayor says, is the growing number of families moving further inland to Toamua-Uta. He said he can hardly keep up with the many families moving into the village, especially when they are mostly freehold land.

Currently, there is a vaccination clinic held at the hall of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa in Toamua.

Exactly one week ago on Saturday, a three-year-old boy from Toamua-uta became one of the children to pass away from a case of suspected measles. His father, Meki Tavita, confirmed he suffered from measles.

A week before his death, a family at Vaitele Uta was mourning the deaths of their two babies who they say died from measles-related complications, according to hospital staff. This includes a one-year-old Lologa Samuelu who died at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital on Saturday and his three-month-old brother, Isaako Samuelu, followed two days later.

The village Mayor of Vaitele, Toī Ioane Ilalio, said a month ago, eight nurses visited Vaitele to set up a booth for mothers to come and vaccinate their children.

“Some of the mothers that came in were schooled by the nurses for their carelessness in keeping records of their children’s immunisation card,” he said. 

“The parent’s role is to ensure that their children are safe and vaccinated against such illnesses.”

Toī said he is always trying to have mobile immunisation teams coming through to Vaitele to suss out the challenge of travelling and long queues for mothers when going to hospitals. But unfortunately not all mothers make use of the opportunity.

Vaiala vfillage Mayor, Loau Tavita Tusila, suggested one way to combat the spread of measles in villages is to stop youth gatherings and sports (fa’aafu) involving the youth.

In terms of Church gatherings, Loau stated that it is still happening but the Reverends of the village Churches have already informed people that if they are experiencing any symptoms , they must stay home.

Last week, a total of 160 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-owned wards and branches in Upolu and Savai'i cancelled all worship services and other gatherings until the state of emergency passes.

The announcement follows the Government issuing orders that banned public gatherings, through the State of Emergency Declaration, three days prior.


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