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Minister promises measles allowance payout

The Minister of Health, Faimalotoa Kika Stowers, has assured that all health workers, including doctors and nurses, who worked during the measles epidemic last year, will be given their allowances payout as early as this week. 

During an interview with the Samoa Observer, Faimalotoa confirmed she has signed an approval form for the measles allowance payout and is currently being processed. 

“The paper has been prepared and should be [ready] by this week, the list is now with Treasury (Ministry of Finance),” said the Minister. 

She could not confirm how much the allowance payout is for the health workers saying she has already signed and did not look into the details of the payments. 

The allowance payout comes five months after the crisis which claimed the lives of 83 Samoans, from over 5,700 cases.

 The measles allowance is different from the overtime payment paid to the health workers in December last year of a total $3.6 million budgeted by Government. 

 Asked why the delay in processing the payments, Faimalo said Health had other pressing priorities of allocating workers to district hospitals and in Savai’i with the coronavirus pandemic. 

“But that is not an excuse to hide behind,” she added. 

“We have to get it done and any worker would look forward to getting paid for their work and we are looking at that for future matters so that it does not happen again.” 

Independent M.P. La'aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao raised the question in Parliament on Tuesday of why health workers who have not received their measles allowance since the outbreak. 

The news is welcomed by doctors, nurses and health allied that worked round the clock during September when measles outbreak was declared. 

Several health workers employed at the hospitals expressed disappointment when they received instructions last month that they will not be getting the measles allowance. 

Others were discouraged after having spent two months away from families so they can respond to growing measles cases. 

One of the senior doctors who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity said the measles allowance was promised by Government to all ministries involved in the measles response. 

“But sadly all other ministries had their share of that whereas health allied whom some contracted measles during the season were told we won’t be getting the allowance,” said the doctor. 

“Everyone was looking forward to the much needed compensation and it was discouraging to hear the no allowance especially now that we still have incoming flights with COVID-19 that is more deadly.”  

Samoa declared a state of emergency in November ordering the closure of schools and restrictions on public gatherings banning the attendance of children. 

A mass vaccination followed after in the nation’s effort to prevent the spread of measles vaccinating more than 65000 people nationwide. 

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