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New Year brings hope, our 2020 wishlist

The first three days of 2020 have begun in a flurry following a tumultuous 2019.

The burning of a family home at Lufilufi, three hours into the new year and with no loss of life, confirms how precarious life can be. 

But there is hope when we welcome the birth Angela To’a’s 3.5kg bundle of joy Nevaeh, who was born 12.30am on January 1, 2020 to become the country’s first baby born in the New Year.

Laughter and camaraderie have also returned to the corridors of Samoa’s churches with children accompanying their parents to church services, following Cabinet’s lifting of the state of emergency last Saturday, and is a sure sign of normalcy returning.

A senior deacon at the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa at Alamagoto, Amuimuia Farani, was ecstatic seeing children back in church.

"This is also the first time we've seen children in church as the state of emergency had been lifted, and there could not be a more perfect time for them to be back to Church, to celebrate New Years with their families," he said.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, in his New Year address to the nation, reflected on the successes of 2019 and the tragedy that was the measles epidemic.

“In all our circumstances in the past twelve months, through both achievements and tribulations, we have seen His grace at work, turning despair to hope, doubt to faith, pride to humility and sadness to comfort and solace,” he said.

“In the past two months, we have seen the measles epidemic sweep throughout Samoa, affecting just over five and a half thousand citizens, mainly children and with a death toll at just over 80. Thankfully, the numbers as of current indicate a reprieve as we head towards recovery.

 “The Government has made some hard decisions for the protection in particular of our children and to ensure that we will always be in a state of readiness to aptly respond to any such crisis in the future.

“I join all of Samoa in conveying our deep-felt sympathy and condolences to all families that have lost loved ones. May God’s healing and comfort fill your homes.”

(See page 6 of the Friday, January 3, 2020 edition of the Samoa Observer for the full transcript of the Prime Minister’s New Year address to the nation)

Prime Minister Tuilaepa is correct, the measles epidemic wouldn't have been arrested, without the support of the country’s international partners and organisations that responded quickly to Samoa’s appeal for help.

A total of 10 countries and organisations responded in Samoa’s hour of need and we cannot thank them enough, for coming to our aid to ensure the health interventions kept the death toll at just over 80. 

And if we are to have a wishlist for the New Year, it would be for the powers-that-be to pay more attention to our Village Voice pages, which continues to highlight the challenges that ordinary Samoan families continue to face.

There continues to be online criticism of this newspaper’s decision to highlight the plight of poverty-stricken families through the Village Voice page, but it would be unacceptable for this newspaper as a member of the Fourth Estate to accept a ‘business-as-usual’ approach to this country’s development challenges.

The measles epidemic, while being a public health crisis, has put a spotlight on the economic status of ordinary Samoan families and raised questions about their ability to be in a position to protect themselves from deadly pathogens.

One local physician has asked questions about the economic status of ordinary Samoan families, and the condition of the houses they live, while admitting that these are issues that the health sector cannot address.

“Is it hygienic and conducive to avoid infectious diseases such as diarrhea, tuberculosis, and pneumonia to name a few? The health sector cannot fix these issues," said Toleafoa Dr. Viali Lameko, the Vice-Chancellor of the Oceania University of Medicine.

Toleafoa has called for a Commission of Inquiry into the measles outbreak to investigate and find out the root causes of the deadly epidemic.

Village Voice has over the years brought you stories on dilapidated housing and the lack of access to clean drinking water and electricity, as amongst the main challenges facing families living on the outskirts of Apia and in the rural community. 

Ordinary citizens too have a right to benefit from this nation's wealth and resources. We can only hope for the best for them and their families in 2020.

Have a lovely Friday Samoa and God bless. 

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