There has to be a better way instead of “stupid” $40 immunisation records fee

The Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, is absolutely correct. For the Government, or in this case the Ministry of Health, to charge parents $40 tala to process copies of their immunisation records is not only ”stupid,” it is heartless.

We find this extremely difficult to believe that after everything this country has been through with the measles crisis that the Government would turn around and slap this silly fee on members of the public, let alone some of the poorest parents in this country.

Why can’t they use some of the monies donated from so many different people during the measles epidemic to do this so that parents could be spared the cost?

Besides, don’t we live in an age where technology exists to make things so much more convenient and cheaper? Why can’t they create an online database that all schools can access? Why can’t they issue a list to all schools with names of all the children who have been vaccinated?

The list of possible solutions is exhaustive. And yet all this Government could think of immediately is to charge parents $40 tala for this simple public service.

Who is making these ridiculous decisions?

To people who are able to afford it, $40 is not a lot of money. But that’s a very small percentage of this country’s population.

Let us be reminded today that in this country, $10 is not a small amount of money. The minimum wage has only risen to $3 at the beginning of the year.

So when you are asking parents to pay $40 for a set of immunisation records it means a parent on the minimum wage will have to work at least two days to afford it. It is a very tall demand.

Which is why we say Minister Loau could not have said it better.

Loau said families with more than five school-aged children needing replacement booklets would be facing expenses that could come at the cost of educational supplies or basic necessities.

“That’s $200 tala," Loau said. "And you tell me, will parents spend that amount to pay for immunization cards; that can go to purchase for the school supplies for the students?

 “If we impose these fees, this will discourage parents. While other parents can afford it, low income families cannot fork up $40 [which usually will] go to their case of chicken for the week."

Indeed, we must keep in mind that the majority of parents we are talking about have as many as eight children. It’s unfathomable how this fee was arrived at.

Today, we reiterate that we believe this fee is heartless. People can certainly be excused for thinking that this is yet another blatant attempt by the Government to make money from a very tragic situation.

Which is unnecessary. Out of the measles epidemic, the Government and the Ministry of Health has already received so much help. Millions in fact. Is it not possible to use some of that money for the purpose of providing parents with records of immunization for their children?

After all, the law requiring parents to provide immunization records was only passed by Parliament two weeks ago. From what we’ve seen judging from the Government’s behaviour up until this point, if anyone is to blame for what has happened, it is the parents.

The $40 fee is another reflection of this thinking that parents should be held accountable for their children’s health and safety.

To an extent, we accept that parents must be held accountable. But it is unfair on the Government to just wake up today, create a law and expect everyone to comply with it tomorrow.

The responsibility for the measles epidemic goes both ways.

And it wasn’t the parents who fell asleep at the wheel after all the warnings from international agencies that Samoa was a risk of an epidemic. It was the Government under the watch of the current leadership.

If anything, after their failure to heed the warnings, they should be the last lot to want to talk about accountability and responsibility. Especially where they are adding another burden on the shoulders of people who are already suffering as a result of their negligence.

What do you think? Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts with us!

Have a wonderful week Samoa, God bless!














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