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Bill would ban early discharges

The Government is considering expanding the scope of a proposed new law for compulsory vaccination to include a prohibition on parents from discharging critically ill children against medical advice. 

Medical doctors have reported that, during the measles outbreak, parents have been taking children home from the hospital despite them remaining critically ill and potentially jeopardising their children’s health. 

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, told the Samoa Observer that when children are critically ill and see others dying from measles it can cause parents to panic and make unwise decisions.

“Counselling [parents] done by church ministers and others to give advice and be compassionate towards them,” he said. 

“But the [Cabinet] meeting on Saturday where we will discuss the bill that is one matter raised that is being considered whether to include in the bill [for compulsory vaccination].”

The Prime Minister made reference to one case where a child was saved when nurses convinced an elderly father to keep his son at the hospital despite his wishes to discharge his son. 

The elderly man had wanted to discharge his son and take him to traditional healers until the nurses' advice. 

“It saved that elderly man’s son but he nearly made that mistake,” he said. 

Tuilaepa said there is no doubt that traditional healers have been around before the now routine measles vaccination was developed and had used traditional medicines to cure measles before then. 

However, he pointed out the disease now appears to be unlike it has been before, where people did not die from measles. 

He recalls that even he went to a traditional healer for treatment and that there are tropical diseases that the healers treat. 

The proposed law, expected to be tabled in Parliament next week, is the Government’s response to the low immunisation coverage in the country and to combat epidemics like measles. 

The bill will make it compulsory for children to be immunised and will not be accepted in Government schools without being immunised. 

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