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Early treatment saves lives

The Ministry of Health says measles patients are dying because they are not being admitted and instead seeking traditional or 'alternative' treatments and only seeking help when critical. 

Leulumoega Rural District Hospital was identified as having the most patients waiting the longest to seek out hospital treatment.

The Director General of the Ministry of Health (M.O.H.), Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, confirmed the figures and the challenges posed by late hospital admission in a media briefing this weekend.

He said that families usually seek treatment outside hospitals, typically in the form of traditional massages.

“The patients only come to the hospital when they are critically ill but some arrive and later pass away because of late admission there is not much we can do,” he said.

Leausa said that the Government cannot legislate over the rights of a mother or a parent over the choice of treatment: “It is entirely up to them how to choose the type of treatment they want.

“We are trying our best to give out information so that parents will understand and make informed decisions in terms of treatment.

“We are very concerned about people getting influenced easily with outside treatments, our country wants fast solutions like getting a massage today and recover tomorrow but the majority of these diseases need time to fight against the body.”

According to the latest update by the Ministry last Saturday, a total of 1,797 measles cases have been reported to the Disease Surveillance Team, since the outbreak started.   

To date, 22 measles-related deaths have been recorded. The majority of the measles cases are in Upolu. 

About 92 per cent of current measles admissions are children, including 11 critically ill children in the Intensive Care Unit (I.C.U.).

There are currently 147 measles cases who are in-patients at all health facilities.  Of these, 120 are at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital; one is at the Malietoa Tanumafili II Hospital; two are at Sataua District Hospital; one is at the Foailalo District Hospital and 23 at the Leulumoega Rural District Hospital. 

When Leausa was asked about some families who are stuck in Upolu or Savaii and cannot travel between islands, he said that they have not heard of any complaints.

Last Saturday, Samoa Observer interviewed a mother of six from Safotu who was told by officials at the Mulifanua wharf that her children could not board the ferry due to orders of state of emergency.

The orders stated that no child under the age of 19 can travel between Upolu and Savaii, until further notice.

Faifua Siala said that they were not aware of the new orders that was issued Thursday evening.

The Director General of Health said that all queries and official complaints should be referred to and addressed by the National Emergency Operation Centre (N.E.O.C.).

“I think most people now are looking at the bad side of the outbreak," he said. 

“In Samoa we have relatives everywhere and they understand we have a problem here in our islands of Upolu, and I don’t think that there will be a problem unless there are other reasons we are not aware. But the proclamation is out."

He also added that over 10,000 people who have been vaccinated, only one person had an adverse reaction but there is medicine to treat it and that person has fully recovered.  

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