Seven Red Cross nurses arrive to help

A team of seven nurses from the New Zealand Red Cross arrived this week to work with the Ministry of Health and Samoa Red Cross on the growing measles crisis.

The hospitals across the country have been operating well over capacity, and the international community has responded with nurses, doctors and medical staff to help relieve the local doctors of the burden, as cases of measles near 3000.

Latest figures released on Wednesday show there have been 33 deaths and 2,686 cases of measles so far.

Acting Secretary General of the Samoa Red Cross Society (S.R.C.S.), Lauvao Isara Iose, said the volunteers are Red Cross international delegates who have worked in health emergency situations all over the world.

Some even attended to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone which lasted around two years, and lead to the death of near 4000 people.

Lauvao said six of the nurses have been stationed in the Ministry of Health across the hospitals, while one has remained with the Red Cross to help with the emergency response operations.

So far the nurses will stay until the end of the State of Emergency proclamation (currently December 15 unless the Government extends the emergency). There is still a possibility some nurses will remain.

As well as helping the mass vaccination efforts, the Red Cross has been carrying out hygiene awareness campaigns, targeting children to teach the importance of hand washing and hygiene for disease prevention. 

When the emergency is over, they will resume visiting families in their homes to share their message and distribute hygiene kits where appropriate, Lauvao said.

“But the first thing is to get the vaccine,” he said.

“We are encouraging the people, if you haven’t vaccinated your kids, this is the moment, this is the time. 

“There is no way we can stop measles except for the vaccine.”

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