Report highlights new, re-emerging diseases

Managing new and re-emerging diseases including the COVID-19 global pandemic remains an ongoing challenge for the local health authorities.

The challenges, which were highlighted in a Government-sanctioned report Second Voluntary National Review on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, highlighted the local authorities’ monitoring and surveillance of communicable diseases as well as tropical diseases have become more systematised.

“This led to the rapid elimination of the chikungunya outbreak in 2015 and dengue outbreak in late 2017,” states the report.

“The prevalence of communicable diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and Hepatitis B are generally low.”

According to the report, two new HIV infections were recorded in 2018 after five years of recording nil cases, to bring the cumulative total since 1990 to 26 for Samoa.

“13 having since passed away and 13 people living with HIV/AIDS and a new HIV infection rate of 0.01 per uninfected population.”

The report added that compliance with drinking water supplies with national drinking water standards have also significantly improved.

“Similarly, incidence of tuberculosis and Hepatitis B have declined from 10/100,000 population in 2012 to 9.6/100,000 in 2019 for tuberculosis and from 3 per cent of total population to 1.1 per cent in 2019 for Hepatitis B in 2012 and 2019, respectively.”

The 2019 to early 2020 measles epidemic was also highlighted and noted for its high proportion death rate among under-five-years-old, which the report says will significantly increase the infant and under-five mortality rates to undo decades of good progress in this area.

“The challenges of managing the recent Measles outbreak in Samoa highlighted some gaps in health administration and service delivery. 

“Despite the health sector and Ministry of Health receiving the highest or second largest national budget allocation annually, the health system still struggles with low numbers of health professionals, limited medical supplies and services.

“While low, the rates of health workers per 1,000 population in all cadres of health professionals have increased slightly since 2011 with pharmacists and nurses showing the biggest increase. 

“The rate for physicians has remained almost the same.”

In addition, the report also made reference to opportunities available through the measles recovery plan and ongoing sector partnerships to respond to the COVID-19 circumstances, in order to help minimise the impact on the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals and on the health of the population.

“The e-health project is an important investment that can improve the service delivery and effectiveness of the health sector to ensure a healthy Samoa.”

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