Economist says focus should be on saving lives

An economist says the measles crisis, which has already claimed 32 lives, will have a domino effect on the country, and adversely affect the economy.

But Luagalau Dr. Wood Salele believes now is not the time to worry about the economy and the knock on effect of the measles outbreak.

Contacted by the Samoa Observer, Luagalau said saving lives should be the priority and he urged everyone to get behind the Government’s campaign to stop the spread of measles.

 “I’m not worried about the economy because it will pick up itself,” he said.

“But we have to work with the government and health officials going out to villages and churches to vaccinate people.

 “We have to give them the full support because one life is precious and it’s one too many.

 “You cannot tell a grieving mother that it’s just one life.”   

Luagalau said the impact of the epidemic is already affecting families spiritually and emotionally and the support of the community is needed now more than ever.

 “I think of my grandchildren and if one is affected, it also affects you spiritually, socially and it has that impact on the whole family and the economy,” he said.

 “We need to pray for God’s guidance on our country because there is something beyond vaccine that only God can see and heal.  

 “We are thankful that many others have survived and we offer our prayers and support to those that have lost their loved ones.”

Luagalau also emphasised that now is not the time for people to point the finger of who is at fault.

“It is now a collective responsibility for everyone to help those in need.”

He added that the Government could not be blamed because the responsibility of getting children vaccinated falls on parents.

Furthermore, he said there is a big lesson from the outbreak of how the low vaccination coverage dropped drastically to 13 per cent coverage for first doze and 31 per cent for second doze in 2018.

Luagalau could not give any estimate of the impact of the measles in Samoa with the absence of the latest statistics.

However, he confirmed that his visit to Savai’I last week could only confirm the impact of the outbreak to the tourism sector with one of the popular beach fales they stayed at being completely empty.

 “There were no tourists and it was quite a surprise as that area is very popular at this time with tourists,” he said.

 “And I feel that is the general feeling across the country with the tourism sector and we can only speculate until we get those figures. But tourists are also conscious of coming here and falling ill while we are at a state of emergency.”

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