“We failed you, Samoa": Olo Fiti Vaai
Fighting back tears, Salega Member of Parliament Olo Fiti Vaai, says: “We failed you, Samoa.”
“The three branches of Government have failed miserably. I have failed and I apologise on behalf of Parliament for what has occurred.
"I failed in doing my part to assist with the prevention and in the end, the epidemic has taken the lives of our children."
The M.P.'s candid admission comes after the measles death toll increased by two following the death of two children aged under four in a crisis that has taken the lives of 55 children in Samoa, so far.
The M.P. has called on the government to launch a Special Commission of Inquiry to find the core of the problem.
“We owe it to the children of Samoa that have passed on and their loved ones whom to this day are in mourning. “There has to be an investigation as to where the lapse is and how the measles came into the country,” he said.
The M.P., who is Parliament's most prominent opposition member, noted that despite the outbreak in the Pacific, Samoa is the only country that’s lost lives to this epidemic.
"There's a lot of speculation, these children deserves some answers, there must be justice in the wake of their death. They cannot die for nothing," he said as his voice broke.
“I want to express my sincererest condolences to the families and children of Samoa that have passed on due to the measles outbreak.
“We failed you little ones and we will try and make amends as a result of our failure,” said the M.P.
Olo Fiti also urged parents to protect their children and take them to the hospital when they are sick.
“And please do not take your children around the bodies of the deceased babies for their protection, as seen on social media.”
He told the Samoa Observer, that a lot has to be said but for the time being, little must be said given the entire Country is still reeling from the wrath of the measles.
“Some families are not affected physically, but Samoa as a whole is mourning," he said.
The Salega M.P. took issue with the delayed actions by the Ministry of Health when New Zealand declared a measles outbreak.
“According to the New Zealand government health information, from 1 January 2019 to 2 December 2019 there have been 2140 confirmed cases of measles notified across New Zealand and 1,708 of these confirmed cases are in the Auckland region," he said.
“Why did Samoa not act in accordance with the outbreak in New Zealand? We had cases in August and the emergency declaration was announced in November. I am not pointing fingers, but there has to be some accountability here.
“The American Samoa Government moved to declare a public health emergency after two suspected measles cases entering their territory.
"It took only two, yet for Samoa, six lives were taken before we acted.
"The mentality of urgency has to change. It appeared as if the Health took this matter lightly and while we acted but it was too late,” said the M.P. while wiping tears from his face.
He commended American Samoa for their immediate action in protecting their people.
“This is what you call a responsible Government."
The M.P. will join the government to assist with the two days of Government shutdown in aid of mass immunisation and noted that it should be extended to a week, to assure the entire country is covered including, Savai’i; Manono and Apolima.
The M.P. said the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi should do something about the Ministry Health.
“In 2013, some 90 per cent of Samoan infants received their first routine Measles, Mumps and Rubella (M.M.R.) vaccines and last year that figure fell to just 31 per cent, according to new data from the World Health Organisation and U.N.I.C.E.F.," he said.
“The Health should not blame the parents for not immunising their children. The health failed to do their core part and that is prevention.
“A mass vaccination campaign should have been conducted in 2013 when the rates were relatively low. How dare the Ministry of Health blame the parents".
The Salega M.P. also thanked the overseas partners for stepping in and providing assistance to the Country.
“May the good Lord continue to grant the wisdom upon the Prime Minister of Samoa to continue to do good works and guide Samoa in the darkest times as the Country mourns,” he concluded.