Stay home, get vaccinated and listen out for instructions
There is not an inkling of doubt about it. Today is perhaps one of the saddest and strangest days in the history of this proud nation.
As the Government implements a total lock down in a bid to fight the measles crisis, we have officially entered unchartered waters in as far as applying martial laws to Samoa goes.
It’s unprecedented. As a country vulnerable to climatic disasters, the declarations for states of emergencies are not unusual. But a complete lock down, where even vehicles and people are not permitted on the roads, is something else.
This is all new to everyone. Indeed, for today and tomorrow, no one is allowed to go anywhere with the exception being officials, who have permission from the Government to do so.
As for everyone else, the message from the Government is quite simple: get vaccinated and stay home.
Now desperate situations call for desperate measures. We know that much and this country is so desperate to prevent the loss of more lives, it is doing everything it could within its powers to achieve that.
The numbers speak for themselves. As this early edition of your newspaper was being compiled, the latest update from the National Emergency Operation Centre was heartbreaking.
Sixty people have been killed since this outbreak was declared an epidemic.
During the past 24 hours, five more people had died.
In moments like this, we look to the leadership of the nation. And the man who has been proudly lording over the decision making of this country for the past 20 years is none other than Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi himself.
On page 11 of the newspaper you are reading, we are reprinting his state address delivered on Monday, in a bid to assuage fear and assure people about the Government’s effort to stop measles. We encourage you to read it.
“In this time of crisis, and the cruel reality of the measles epidemic, let us reflect on how we can avoid recurrence in the future,” he said.
“In times of natural disasters we are able to attract many responders to provide relief and recovery. With health disasters, only members of the health profession can provide the appropriate response.”
According to the Prime Minister, it is a “fact that those who have died have never had vaccinations.”
The question then is a very simple one. Whose fault is that? What has the Ministry of Health been doing all this time? Where have all the laui’as in the Ministry and the Government been while this was allowed to happen? And is this really a natural disaster?
The majority of the fatalities are innocent children who had absolutely no control over what has happened to them. If there is anything that could be more painful in this tragedy, it is the thought that the leadership of today has failed the future of this country.
We are talking about babies whose lives should have been protected from day one. They are children who did not have to die. We can go on but then maybe that’s a story for another day.
Today, we encourage everyone to adhere to the messages from the Government as we move together to fight this battle.
“The Government continues to emphasize through all forms of the media the importance of prevention and protection of our children. It is critical that we stand together on ways to address the crisis,” Prime Minister Tuilaepa said.
“The Government needs the support of all village councils, faith based organisations and church leaders, Village mayors and Government women representatives and all organisations engaged in outreach programs.
“Let us work together to encourage and convince those that do not believe that vaccinations are the only answer to the epidemic.
“Let us not be distracted by the promise of alternative cures. Measles is not a new disease to Samoa and rarely claimed lives.
“I would again call on everyone’s cooperation to protect our children; seek medical care for sick children early, ensure family members especially children are vaccinated and maintain good hygiene standards in all environments.”
We couldn’t agree more with Prime Minister Tuilaepa. Sixty deaths is a catastrophe. Lets all do our part to ensure any more deaths are kept to a minimum.
Stay safe, stay strong and may God help our nation today!