A crisis within a crisis. Thank you for helping
We know this much. Samoa’s health system was already borderline crisis in terms of the chronic shortage of health workers before the Government declared the spread of measles as an epidemic.
With more than 3,500 cases of measles and 48 lives lost as a result of the outbreak a month later, it’s not hard to imagine how difficult things must be for health workers who are at the front-line of battling the crisis before this nation.
Which is why a story titled “Serious nurse shortage alarming” published on page 5 of the Sunday Samoan immediately attracted attention.
It’s bad enough that this nation is facing one of the deadliest epidemics it has encountered in a very long time.
But the shortage – not to mention fatigue that could lead to human error - of health workers who are expected to tackle the crisis, is another matter.
According to the story in question, Paul McWilliam, a nurse volunteer in the Intensive Care Unit (I.C.U.) expressed concerns about the shortage of nurses.
Asked if staffing shortage could lead to accidents, he did not hesitate to say yes.
From what he has seen during his time in Samoa, many doctors and nurses have not seen a day off since the epidemic blew up in early October.
Ideally, every bed in the I.C.U. should have three nurses assigned to it so they can take 12-hour rosters with a back-up in case someone cannot work, he said.
With 12 ventilated beds in the unit, that’s 36 nurses for the one unit alone.
This is far from reality at Moto’otua and all district hospitals throughout the country today.
“We have operating theatre nurses helping out looking after intensive care patients, and they are tired,” said Mr. McWilliam.
It’s not just nurses. We are talking about doctors and everyone in the health system who are at the coalface of this epidemic.
They have been on the go from day one and each and every one of them deserves recognition and acknowledgement for their tireless work.
As we begin this week, spare a thought for them. Whisper a prayer for our health workers so God Almighty can help them find courage, bravery and strength upon strength to continue to push on.
One week of overtime work amidst what must be extremely trying conditions is tough on anyone. Four weeks in that kind of pressure cooker environment is unimaginable.
The good news is that our international partners have responded passionately and positively. More and more international health workers, nurses and doctors included, are arriving everyday to lend a hand.
This is why the sentiments expressed by the Chairman of the Disaster Advisory Committee Chairman, Ulu Bismarck Crawley, in thanking Samoa’s international partners for their response, is extremely important.
In embracing the response from the international community to Samoa’s call for help, Ulu expressed Samoa’s heartfelt thank you.
“Samoa is blessed to have the support from our key partners and international community,” he said.
“Samoa’s key partners have responded compassionately to the country’s hour of need as it continues its battle against the measles crisis.
“The outpouring of compassion, commitment and sacrifice to help Samoa from so many people and so many places is truly inspiring to all of us. Faafetai, faafetai, faafetai tele lava.”
We join Ulu to echo that message. Indeed, words are not adequate to convey just how much the people of this country appreciate every individual who has left the comfort of their country, home and even risk being infected with measles to help Samoa today.
From Australia, New Zealand, French Polynesia, World Health Organisation and all health workers who have made the trip to Samoa, we cannot thank you enough.
It’s equally important to acknowledge the support of everyone providing food and countless forms of donations to help our health workers help Samoa. We don’t know everybody but we know God does and your hard work will not go unnoticed, unrewarded.
Looking at the death toll on the front page of the newspaper you are reading, 48 people have already died. This is a tragedy.
But we must never lose hope. More people are being treated, more people are being vaccinated, more are being healed and through such adversity, we have seen the best of humankind in the response for help.
Let’s continue to pray, believe and declare that this too will pass.
Get vaccinated, stay safe Samoa and may God help our country!