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Reaping the benefits of house-to-house vaccination 

There has been a feeling of despair and helplessness seeing the death toll from the measles epidemic continuing to soar.Our hearts and minds are with the families of the deceased, whose passing over the last few weeks got the death toll to hit 62, and we again appeal to families to take their children to the nearest health facility rather than seek traditional healers or alternative medicine due to the risks associated with delayed treatment. The Samoa government in an update on Wednesday advised that for the first time two adults were part of the overnight fatalities. The two adults – one between 20-29 years of age and the other 30-39 years – join a 37-year-old who died in the first week of the epidemic.The number of measles cases has also gone over the 4,000 threshold with the Ministry of Health (M.O.H.) confirming that a total of 4,052 measles have now been reported to their Disease Surveillance Team since the outbreak.With the death toll threatening to get to the century mark, it is hoped the government’s two-day shutdown on Thursday and Friday will reap rewards and arrest more measles-related fatalities in the immediate future, as civil servants join MOH staff and international medical emergency teams to increase Samoa’s immunisation coverage through a house-to-house vaccination programme.The misinformation spread by anti-vaccination groups are some of the major factors behind families opting to take their sick children to traditional healers and proponents of alternative medicine. The M.O.H. recently warned families of the dangers of late medical interventions, due to the parents of sick children opting for alternative treatment.“We are trying our best to give out information so that parents will understand and make informed decisions in terms of treatment,” said the M.O.H. Director General, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri.“We are very concerned about people getting influenced easily with outside treatments, our country wants fast solutions like getting a massage today and recover tomorrow but the majority of these diseases need time to fight against the body.”We believe locally-based anti-vaccination groups and individuals or even those using social media to propagate alternative forms of treatment should be arrested and charged under state of emergency laws for being a danger to public health.The actions of anti-vaccination groups or individuals as well as those promoting alternative treatment is creating confusion and a loss of confidence in the health system, which can have fatal consequences for individuals and families during the epidemic.Therefore, we applaud the decision by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi for taking the lead in his government’s house-to-house vaccination programme, when he and members of his Cabinet were vaccinated in the Cabinet Office and their photos distributed on the government’s social media page.As residents and citizens living in a country currently plagued by a public health crisis that has already claimed 62 lives and more by the end of the day, we have a responsibility to share correct information from official sources that will save lives, and not disempower families and individuals and place them in an even more precarious position.Early in the week the government lifted the vaccination restrictions to vulnerable groups to include older adults up to the age of 60, drawing praise from members of the community who were concerned that even the elderly were unprotected.Vaccination statistics released by the government on December 3 show that as of Monday this week a total of 25,058 residents have been vaccinated out of a target population of 44,649. And in the most vulnerable group under 4 years of age, less than 2,000 children in Savai’i have received vaccination. Out of a total population of over 200,000 over 55 per cent of the country’s population or 110,000 have been vaccinated since October 1.The above statistics show that a lot more needs to be done to save lives and we can only hope that the two-day government shutdown will ultimately reap rewards in the end. Samoa has entered uncharted waters, hence let’s pray the fatalities will gradually end and the mass vaccination programme now underway will translate to better health outcomes, for this nation and its people over the long-term period.Let us all take care in these trying times and God bless us all.

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Death of Chinese man, measles epidemic and accountability in a time of crisis

On Friday morning, Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, did exactly what a leader should do. Following the outrage over the killing of a Chinese man last month, as the leader of this nation, he fronted up.The Prime Minister delivered a eulogy at Cao Yaqing’s funereal at Sefo’s Funeral Parlour with a very strong message. One that is worth repeating.“This country is administered under the law and lawless behaviour will be dealt with severely,” the Prime Minister told mourners, who were predominantly Chinese, many of them having flown over from China for the funeral.“Samoa is a Christian state with Christian people. I want assure our potential interested investors that Samoa is a politically stable country. “We do however detest behaviours that are repugnant. Our people are dedicated to the ideals of human rights, freedom and democracy.”For the uninitiated, Mr. Cao was the victim of a robbery at Vaitele last month.From what we’ve been told, four men armed with machetes and knives broke into the Pacific Trade and Industry compound wanting to steal a “large quantity” of money on the premises – when their criminal plan was interrupted.During the ensuing confrontation, Mr. Cao was killed. Two other Chinese nationals were injured and required urgent medical attention.Last week, Gogosina Leilua, Tafi Samuelu, Kome Sioeli and Mikaele Leilua appeared before Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke in the Supreme Court for their alleged role in the robbery.They are scheduled to return to Court on Tuesday. In the meantime, Prime Minister Tuilaepa has assured the family of Mr. Cao that the people responsible will face the full brunt of the law. “Our hearts are with the grieving family in their time of sorrow,” he said. “We are saddened with the untimely death of this innocent and devoted servant of Samoa in terms of development.“Many families in Samoa benefited from Yaqing’s efforts not only in terms of direct employment and providing support to their own children as well as it provides services to our wider community to meet their daily needs.”We couldn’t agree more with Prime Minister Tuilaepa.In fact, we acknowledge his leadership in fronting up in an attempt to mend relations, and send out a strong message that Samoa does not condone this type of behaviour.It’s undeniable that the killing of an innocent man and inflicting injuries on innocent members of the public should not be taken lightly. And Tuilaepa rightly said the law must be used to send out the strongest of messages to deter anyone else thinking of going down the same path.  On any other day, there will so much said about the death of the Chinese man.It’s a death that should be a wake up call for everyone. Sadly, the funeral of Mr. Cao was held amidst the tragedy of the measles epidemic that has gripped this nation. At the time of writing, 44 people have died. The majority of them are innocent young babies and children. This is not a small number.These are two very separate cases. Let’s not confuse them.But looking at the pain and suffering of thousands of people in Samoa, one of these days, Prime Minister Tuilaepa, as the leader of the nation, will need to find the same courage to front up and explain how this has come about. There has got to be an explanation from the leaders of this country – as to how under their watch – this was allowed to happen. We don’t need finger pointing and the usual name-calling that comes with these things, we just want the truth.Indeed, people need to be assured that what is happening today will not happen again tomorrow.You see, the jury is still out on what caused this health crisis. We say this because there are so many theories and so many things are being blamed. From low vaccination rates, anti-vaccination campaigns to traditional healers and what have you.  Whatever your theory is, this country needs to be asking itself some very, very serious questions. Look around. While measles has spread to American Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Cook Islands and other nearby countries, no one has died in those countries as a result.Why Samoa? The fact is 44 people have died and many more will die before this is all over.We cannot swallow this anomaly and move on as if it’s normal. This is not normal. We have got to account for these 44 deaths and possibly more, as we would do with any death. One life lost is one too many.Many of these precious innocent lives should have been spared. Somewhere, somehow, this country failed these lives. And somebody has to be accountable.That said, we want to again offer our appreciation to all the health workers who are toiling day and night to battle this crisis. We can only pray for strength and courage in the face of adversity. We can only pray for wisdom and super natural ability to help them in these difficult times.We also want to acknowledge all the helping hands who have been mobilized in Samoa’s hour of need. Through all these different donor countries, development partners, organisations, groups, churches and every individual, we have seen hope amidst chaos. We have seen joy in adversity.Let’s continue to pull together Samoa.At this point, we want to extend our deepest condolences to the family of the Chinese man killed at Vaitele and to the families of the 44 Samoans who have so far been claimed by the measles crisis.Have a restful Sunday Samoa and may God help our country!       

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A crisis within a crisis. Thank you for helping

We know this much. Samoa’s health system was already borderline crisis in terms of the chronic shortage of health workers before the Government declared the spread of measles as an epidemic.With more than 3,500 cases of measles and 48 lives lost as a result of the outbreak a month later, it’s not hard to imagine how difficult things must be for health workers who are at the front-line of battling the crisis before this nation.Which is why a story titled “Serious nurse shortage alarming” published on page 5 of the Sunday Samoan immediately attracted attention.It’s bad enough that this nation is facing one of the deadliest epidemics it has encountered in a very long time.But the shortage – not to mention fatigue that could lead to human error - of health workers who are expected to tackle the crisis, is another matter.According to the story in question, Paul McWilliam, a nurse volunteer in the Intensive Care Unit (I.C.U.) expressed concerns about the shortage of nurses.Asked if staffing shortage could lead to accidents, he did not hesitate to say yes.From what he has seen during his time in Samoa, many doctors and nurses have not seen a day off since the epidemic blew up in early October.Ideally, every bed in the I.C.U. should have three nurses assigned to it so they can take 12-hour rosters with a back-up in case someone cannot work, he said.With 12 ventilated beds in the unit, that’s 36 nurses for the one unit alone.This is far from reality at Moto’otua and all district hospitals throughout the country today. “We have operating theatre nurses helping out looking after intensive care patients, and they are tired,” said Mr. McWilliam.It’s not just nurses. We are talking about doctors and everyone in the health system who are at the coalface of this epidemic.They have been on the go from day one and each and every one of them deserves recognition and acknowledgement for their tireless work.As we begin this week, spare a thought for them. Whisper a prayer for our health workers so God Almighty can help them find courage, bravery and strength upon strength to continue to push on.One week of overtime work amidst what must be extremely trying conditions is tough on anyone. Four weeks in that kind of pressure cooker environment is unimaginable.The good news is that our international partners have responded passionately and positively. More and more international health workers, nurses and doctors included, are arriving everyday to lend a hand.This is why the sentiments expressed by the Chairman of the Disaster Advisory Committee Chairman, Ulu Bismarck Crawley, in thanking Samoa’s international partners for their response, is extremely important.In embracing the response from the international community to Samoa’s call for help, Ulu expressed Samoa’s heartfelt thank you.“Samoa is blessed to have the support from our key partners and international community,” he said.“Samoa’s key partners have responded compassionately to the country’s hour of need as it continues its battle against the measles crisis.“The outpouring of compassion, commitment and sacrifice to help Samoa from so many people and so many places is truly inspiring to all of us.  Faafetai, faafetai, faafetai tele lava.”We join Ulu to echo that message. Indeed, words are not adequate to convey just how much the people of this country appreciate every individual who has left the comfort of their country, home and even risk being infected with measles to help Samoa today.From Australia, New Zealand, French Polynesia, World Health Organisation and all health workers who have made the trip to Samoa, we cannot thank you enough.It’s equally important to acknowledge the support of everyone providing food and countless forms of donations to help our health workers help Samoa. We don’t know everybody but we know God does and your hard work will not go unnoticed, unrewarded.Looking at the death toll on the front page of the newspaper you are reading, 48 people have already died. This is a tragedy.But we must never lose hope. More people are being treated, more people are being vaccinated, more are being healed and through such adversity, we have seen the best of humankind in the response for help. Let’s continue to pray, believe and declare that this too will pass.Get vaccinated, stay safe Samoa and may God help our country!          

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The 50-plus death toll. Be responsible parents

It is tragic that 48 days after the Samoa government’s declaration of a measles epidemic, the number of fatalities from the outbreak has crossed the half-century mark.In fact when the government declared on October 16 that the country had a measles epidemic, no one thought the public health crisis would spiral out of control, and claim so many lives in such a short space of time.Close to a month after declaring Samoa had a measles epidemic, the then Acting Prime Minister and Health Minister Faimalotoa Kika Stowers announced on Friday November 15 that the Cabinet agreed for the proclamation of a state of emergency.On Monday Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi announced in a press conference that there would be a major shutdown of government on Thursday and Friday this week, which would enable Samoa’s civil service to join health workers rollout a mass vaccination programme across the country. Tuilaepa announced that public and government services – excluding the Samoa Water Authority and the Electric Power Corporation – would be closed effective this Thursday and Friday."The public service and government services will be closed for Thursday to Friday this week in order to allow public servants to assist with the mass vaccination campaign throughout the country, expect the [Samoa Water Authority] and [the Electric Power Corporation]," Tuilaepa said.  "A full programme will be published for the public; the answer to our prayers is with us through the services of the doctors and nurses and all health personnel."The announcement by the Prime Minister comes on the back of a government update advising of the death toll increasing to 53. The deceased include 25 children between the ages of 1-4 and 23 under 1 years of age. Measles cases as of last night stood at 3,728 and hospitalisation had risen to 1,129. There is no doubt that the spike in fatalities is taking a toll on everyone, especially the families and friends of all those who have perished in recent weeks, as the epidemic swept through the land. We too have asked questions of our own on why the authorities did not take action sooner, in order to prevent what is now becoming a catastrophe for this nation of under 200,000 people. We started running stories in early October on suspected cases of measles. We took the Ministry of Health to task, over the delay in getting back test results and acting immediately to put in place contingency plans.But as the clock continues to tick and the life of another innocent child cut short by complications brought on by the virus, we must leave the postmortem and accountability phase of this growing health crisis to another time, and join hands with the authorities to do our best to ensure no other child of Samoa enters the halls of the Tupua Tamasese Meaole National Hospital (TTM) at Motootua.Therefore, we must take the opportunity to emphasise again that the responsibility for each and every child in this country belongs to the parents. It is our responsibility as parents to ensure our children stay indoors and do not go out to public gatherings – even if they are vaccinated – in line with the provisions of the state of emergency.Having driven around Apia and entered public spaces such as supermarkets and even churches, we continue to see parents taking their infant children and toddlers around, without a care in the world and in blatant breach of the state of emergency orders.Recently I saw a toddler less than 2 years of age, running around a major supermarket, wearing a diaper and without a shirt and shorts. The child’s parents walked out of sight to another section of the shop, perhaps expecting the toddler to run after them, and totally ignorant of the risks that their child could be exposed to.Are parents exposing their children to risks of infection through their negligence? Should we start reporting parents who are taking their underage children to public gatherings and thereby putting them at risk?A couple of days ago the Police warned that members of the public who take children to public gatherings could be charged or even arrested. We welcome the caution from the Police but we need to go one step further and walk the talk and hold parents to account – charging a mother or a father for exposing their children to risks, which could cost them their lives, will drive home the point.With the death toll now precariously hurtling towards the 60th mark, we must not drop our guard and should take it upon ourselves to hold others to account. One life lost is one too many. Take care and God bless Samoa. 

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Street Talk

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Public support ban of children from church services

Alofa Isaia, 25, AfegaI think there should be a ban on young children from attending church services as they are the ones most vulnerable to measles. Keeping them at home is the best option in order to lessen the risks of spreading the virus. If the children are allowed in church this will make the measles spread to other children and make them sick. For us adults we can handle the pain but the children cannot and this is why I totally support the ban on children from church services.Fotu Faafetai, 37, SavaiiI totally support the ban on children from church services to prevent the measles from spreading from one child to another. Measles can spread fast and affect everyone and the children are the most vulnerable. Church service is a part of our everyday life but the health of our children is more important to us. I have children as well and I know how painful it will be if my child got the measles and loses his or her life.Aisepka Lokeni, 57, Nu’uWe should listen to the advice from the church ministers to ban children from attending church services, as the risk of them spreading the measles to other kids is high. The Bible says we have to obey our leaders, and that is why we should listen to our leaders and save our children and vulnerable people from dying. I totally support the ban to prevent measles from spreading even faster.John Ale, 50, Vaitele FouI support the ban on children from attending church service because this will prevent measles from getting spread to other children, and getting the other children infected. We all want to go to church, but going to church service with children who have measles – they will only spread it and this will affect other children, and the disease will spread.Fotulafai Reupena, 61, Vaitele FouI take off my hat to the government for the decision to ban children from attending church services and public areas due to the measles outbreak. We should protect them from the virus. I read media reports of many children losing their lives from measles, if this fatalities continue there could be no more young generation for Samoa. We have to protect our own children, and the children are the future of our country. Faititili Tipasa, 40, AfegaI totally support the ban on children from church because I know that the children are the ones most affected by the measles. I prefer children not attend any church service as they can be easily affected if they still go and it will lead to more infections. Ensuring the children stay home will prevent measles from spreading, and protect other children infection. 

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Cancelled N.U.S. graduation inspires mixed views

Beverly Kalita, 15, Leauva’a villageI am happy with the decision of the National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) administration to cancel the 2019 Foundation Graduation and postpone the TVET Graduation. In fact it is no use for the students to do the exams and then attend the prize-giving ceremonies when the students end up getting themselves infected with measles. Spencer Saveaali’i, 21, Fa’atoia villagePersonally, I think that it is unfair the N.U.S. 2019 Foundation Graduation has been cancelled and the TVET Graduation postponed to next year. The students put a lot of effort into their work over the year and for this to happen is unfair. We have been working very hard throughout the year. It is heartbreaking. I still think it is unfair and the dates could have been postponed.Eli Junior Wilson, 21, Vaimoso villageI would be a bit disappointed – just like every other N.U.S. foundation kid – who were supposed to graduate at the 2019 Foundation Graduation. It is disappointing seeing what is actually happening. It’s not really the whole government’s fault, it's just that the disease has spread and the university had to cancel the programmes for the safety of everyone. I would be happy to know if I would be graduating, but the fact that it has been canceled would make me upset.Leitu Meki, 28, Nu’u Fou villageI have noticed that the measles spreads quickly in public areas and places where people gather and there is a crowd. It is appropriate to cancel the 2019 Foundation Graduation and postpone the TVET Graduation as they can be done at a later date. Losing a student to measles is something that cannot be overturned. I suggest that students who are infected stay home for further treatment, rather than come to school and spread it to others. Anzac Leituala, 30, Solosolo and Tuanaimato villagesThere’s no difference canceling the 2019 Foundation Graduation and postponing the TVET Graduation. I wonder why they would consider canceling the graduation but not the examinations.  The measles epidemic has grown as a lot of people are dying, especially babies and I ask why not us. It’s a good idea that they canceled the graduation as it will be crowded but they should also consider cancelling the exams. Therese Atonio, 18, Falefa and Vailele villagesIt’s unfair and I feel sorry for these students who planned to graduate at the 2019 Foundation Graduation and the TVET Graduation. They have now been called and postponed. They worked hard and looked forward to these days. It’s sad because they were looking forward to the graduation event and so forth and now it is canceled. It feels as if their goals and aims to graduate were torn down. They should graduate despite the measles outbreak.

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Public back Government's sports sponsorship

 Aloleilua Junior Fuimaono, 35, Vaitele FouGovernment ministries' sponsorship of sports in Samoa is good because the people who are playing in those sports are Samoans. There will be benefits for the players as well as the sponsoring government ministries. Benefits to the players include developing their talents in the sport. If the athlete is a Samoan why can't the government support them? It is the right thing and this shows the government is doing something for its people.Ausi Ausane Tom Misimoa, 42, Vaitele FouGovernment sponsorship of sports in Samoa is great because it will develop the code – whether it is boxing, football or other sports – the athletes don't only represent themselves but the country too. Fundraising for teams to participate in international tournaments is always a challenge, getting government support and sponsorship helps the teams. At the end of the day the government benefits and the players improve in their sports. The ministries also get to be acknowledged by the players.Losivali Hill-Matthew, 70, Fasitoo-taiI totally support government sponsorship and support for players in any sport here in Samoa, because the people who are playing are Samoans and they should be sponsored them by the government. The sponsorship will benefit the government and the athletes also get to improve their skills, thanks to the support and sponsorship and support of the government. Government sponsorship and support enables athletes to be elevated to the next level and ultimately the athletes' families benefit.Peati Eria, 63, Fagaola MaasinaIt is a great idea to have government ministries sponsor sports as it enables players to develop his or her talent in the sport. Just like soccer, if government ministries sponsor soccer, this will compel local players to train harder and play to the best of their abilities. That would also mean there is no need for fundraising as the ministry is supporting them. Sala Sailivale, 19, SavaiiA government ministry should sponsor or support sports, regardless of whether it is volleyball, basketball and more. The sponsorship will contribute to the country's economic growth, help the player to improve their talents and lead to the signing of contracts with teams abroad. They will then be able to remit money back to their families. Government sponsorship will also boost their profile and lead to the growth of their talent in the sport.Taua Muamai, 42, Lefaga It is important for a government ministry to sponsor sports because this will help the sports to grow more, and people with talent can continue to develop and make it become very competitive. To me every Samoan person is very supportive of a Samoan who has talent in the sport and this is also why the government ministry should go down that path. The benefit is that the ministry will be well known by people within the sporting fraternities such as weightlifting and boxing.

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Members of the public tell us how they are protecting their families

Pai Logo, 34, SiusegaThe things that I will do to protect my family from measles is to make sure the food my family eats are well prepared and everything is clean. The other thing is to prevent my kids from going into public areas, where they can get easily infected with measles, they should stay inside the house all the time.  Also I note the Ministry of Health advice on going to the hospital to get them vaccinated. Tautusi Pese, 38, SiusegaI have to protect my family because there are so many diseases out there. As for my family at Siusega village I have stopped my kids from going outside the house, and to keep away from public areas that are overcrowded. The weather is the reason the kids are affected by the measles and I must make sure they are indoors at all times.Esau Luapua, 41, TufuiopaWhat I will do to protect my family is to prevent my children from going to play with other families' kids. Another way is to follow the advice of the Ministry of Health, like getting the kids and family on vaccines. Also to make sure that the food they eat should be well cooked, and the environment in which the food is prepared should be clean. Pese Samuelu, 41, Nuu-FouI will take good care of my children and not let them go to crowded places and public areas. I also have to make sure that the children are vaccinated, and with Christmas approaching we should keep them at home, and not allowing them to attend any programme. There are also traditional Samoan methods to protect my children. Iese  Tagaloga, 26, AleisaTo keep my family safe, I will have to make sure my family does not go to the public area or overcrowded places. I don’t rely on Samoan traditional healers, but I seek the lord's help in praying for his healing on my family. And if I know that I am affected with measles, I make sure that I stay home so that the diseases is not spread. Pelenatete Vaafaasavilitofa, 20,  Vaitele FouMe and my family have to avoid public areas or overcrowded places, and make sure that food family members eat are prepared in a clean and healthy way – like well boiled and well cooked. Another way is to follow the advice of the Ministry of Health and don’t believe reports that traditional Samoan healers can cure measles.

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Letter to Editor

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China and developments at Mulifanua

Kevin Hart’s letter of 03 September complained about the Chinese being a likely buyer of Government’s shareholding in the Sheraton Samoa Resort at Mulifanua. Which raises the question; what is wrong with Chinese investors getting involved in tourism development in Samoa anyway especially when there isn’t much interest from elsewhere? Virtually every other country in the Pacific and the world including the US and Australia, China’s foremost critics have been enjoying the benefits of Chinese trade, investment, and tourism. So why not Samoa?Whether people like it or not, China will be a major player in the region, and it will only get worse with time for those who wish it otherwise. And in any case, one can’t do business with China as China’s critics do, and then seek to deny the Pacific Islands the same privilege by engaging in fearmongering about China’s intentions.  Samoa’s deputy prime minister called this bahaviour recently, patronizing and offensive. It is also dishonest. One would have thought that with colonialism still fresh in people’s minds, China’s detractors might have tried some more subtle way to make their case about China being a threat to Island nations. After all, these are nations that have only recently won back their own sovereignty from countries that are accusing China, a victim of colonialism itself, of malevolent intent in the Pacific.  Samoa’s prime minister made the point at the Pacific Island Forum that China is not an enemy of Samoa, which adheres to a “friend to all and enemy to none” approach to old and new comers alike to the region. The Pacific islands have legitimate economic needs and environmental interests that the former colonial powers in the Pacific have been unable to meet or in some cases totally ignored. Over the years, the Pacific Island nations have even been blamed for supposedly lagging in economic growth behind other parts of the world that receive similar levels of aid. But more recent work on the subject has confirmed what the Pacific Islands have known all along. And that is when you are small, highly fragmented and horribly isolated, your costs of attempting any form of economic activity are always going to be high no matter what you do.  China’s willingness and ability to help bridge this aid gap is welcomed therefore. It also helps that China has a different approach in its relations with the tiny and insignificant Pacific Island states and peoples. And it happens it’s an approach that the Pacific peoples themselves understand all too well and appreciate. Its an approach that recognizes the inherent dignity of peoples irrespective of colour, money and level of development. The result is that in spite of the fear mongering about China’s supposedly hidden agenda even in the face of evidence to the contrary, the Pacific Islands have seen no reason to believe this crude and offensive propaganda.  There appears to have been a notable increase lately in the number of visits by navy vessels and personnel from the US and Australia doing the usual public relations soft sell with various groups including school children. The visit on board these war machines and the helicopter rides for the children will have been the thrill of a lifetime for many. One suspects that we will be seeing more of these as the West sets out to contain the rise of Chinese influence in the region. The visits bring back to mind the colonial days of gun boat diplomacy in the Pacific when control of native populations was exercised mainly through the firepower of visiting warships when turned on native communities that failed to toe the line   Samoa’s prime minister is reported to have said recently in relation to the stepped-up competition that Samoa’s main interest and focus of diplomacy is to raise standards of living and provide for its people’s needs. In the circumstances, public relations and making friends with young people will only go so far in winning influence especially in the face of China’s hard cash. Airy catch phrases such as Step Up, (Australia), Pacific Uplift, (UK), something about Family? (US), can easily backfire. A meeting between Chinese leaders and Pacific Island leaders being hosted by Samoa in October this year should be quite an event especially at this time. It will most likely see among other things the unveiling of some new aid and trade initiative by China.   And as for Chinese interests possibly helping to bring more air services to Samoa, that too would be a welcome relief from the monopolistic practices of Air New Zealand, Virgin Airways and Fiji Airways, the three carriers that operate services in Samoa today. After being badly burnt in yet another one-sided partnership with an Australian carrier, the Samoan government did the right thing for Samoa in starting up Samoa Airways in spite of the risks and poor timing. When Polynesian Airlines started international services to New Zealand in the late 1970s, it did so mainly on the strength of Samoa’s own ethnic traffic between the two countries. The airline did well even then, until gross mismanagement grounded it with heavy losses. In spite of its inauspicious beginnings, Samoa Airways if properly managed and run, (by professionals preferably), has every chance of being the catalyst for Samoa to have the airline services it so badly needs. But it is helpful as government embarks on this to be reminded that we have been down this very road before. The lessons of history are there and must be learnt and heeded, if their repetition is to be avoided. Incidentally, as for a possible flooding of the To-Sua with tourists from China if direct charter flights were to start between China and Samoa, I have a suggestion. Make the climb down to the water even more challenging than it is now. That should encourage only the young and the brave to take the plunge. Afamasaga F ToleafoaLetava

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Sisters provide update on Nathan Keil

Most people in Samoa know who Nathan Keil is - or at least recognize him. He has grown up in the public eye and has so many friends. It has been about a year since our father, Hans Joachim “Joe” Keil passed away, and we wanted to give you all an update on Nathan and thank all those who reach out to him and help ease the pain that he still feels.Nathan's best friend was his Dad. They did so much together.They often worked together, ate together, went to many functions together and traveled together. They had such a great relationship: one that any father and son team would be envious of.They would have breakfast in the morning before work and dinner late in the evening.  They would walk to the store every morning together to buy the Samoa Observer before breakfast.  Then head out to work after breakfast. Usually around lunch time Dad would take Nathan home and after lunch Nathan would stay home and Dad would go back to work.In the evenings, Nathan would wait to have dinner with his Dad - who sometimes got home late because of meetings - but Nathan would still wait and they would eat together.  Sometimes our mother would eat meals with them. But sometimes she wouldn't because she would eat and then go check on her mother.Now our mother makes sure she eats with Nathan unless he is off having dinner with an uncle, aunt or cousins.  Nathan still talks to our father every day.  He says hello to our father's pictures in the living room and calls out greetings to him whenever he passes the gravesite just down the road.  At nights, Nathan talks to our Dad in the moon.  He says he can see our Dad smiling down from the moon. He tells our Dad how much he loves him and misses him every day.  He smiles, he laughs, he cries.  And we all cry with him - because although we all miss our father as well, and are still heartbroken that he is gone  - Nathan feels it 10 times more - because none of us were best friends with our father the way Nathan was.So to everyone who has helped ease this transition for Nathan - thank you!Thank you to Corey, Niko, Aotearoa and Nathan’s friends at TV3 for continuing to make Nathan feel like he is The Boss at TV3. Because that is what our father always let Nathan believe.Thank you to Tasha and Francis for giving him a job assembling boxes at the cake shop.  He is such a dedicated worker.Thank you to uncles, aunts and cousins who include Nathan in their family celebrations and gatherings.  Thank you to those who pick him up and take him to the movies, to church, to the gym or other places.Thank you to those who text him or call him because it makes him feel so special.And thank you especially to our mother Celine for filling the void as best as you can.  For although you and Nathan are close - Dad was Nathan's best buddy.God bless!Nathan’s sisters,Violette, Bella and Katrina

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We need to urgently review entire vaccination programme in Samoa

I read James Robertson’s article titled “Government needs to dispense hard truths to cure vaccine mistrust”with interest and also great concern.It is actually bordering on unscientific scare mongering. Just a few corrections for you. Firstly there were THREE (3) deaths last year on administration of MMR vaccine. Two from malpractice and one caused by a hyperactive immune response to the MMR vaccine itself. The first death we only became aware of because the parents came forward due to the deaths later on in the year in Safotu. How many more parents are not coming forward? How many more deaths are we experiencing that we are totally unaware of?This clearly demolishes your quote from the honourable judge supporting that vaccines are safe.You say that the country is in dire danger because of the recent significant fall in vaccines with the assumption that increased vaccination will protect against the disease. So let us put this to the test with the little data that we actually have on vaccination in Samoa and how Samoa has fared according to our reports submitted to WHO. Do you know that when we had our highest vaccination rates we had our highest rates of measles? That throws a bit of a spanner in the works doesn't it.You are likely unaware but in the Disney land outbreak in 2015, 38% of the people who got measles were FULLY VACCINATED. That is a bit of a worry isn't it? https://jcm.asm.org/content/55/3/735?fbclid=IwAR3a6XBFsukEBAbHNvS3PTN98f_YOeBGpGcPDIVhFhKznl6IPlHcO98bsF8Vaccinologists promised us that the following would happen:Life long immunity from the vaccine. Clearly has not happened as per Disney Land outbreakWould eliminate serious complications and mortality from measles. Has not happened as in the death last year that we know of and how many more???Eradication of the disease (was forecast by Merck to be 1967) - clearly has not happened.Will not shed -New York, primary source of infection? 2 dose vaccinated individual - vaccine is causing outbreaks: https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/58/9/1205/2895266You mention Britain with 95% vaccination rate? Well they are having outbreaks. Merck promised that at 55% immunization rate they would replicate herd immunity and prevent outbreaks. Sounds like they were a bit arrogant don't you think and completely underestimated and misunderstood how the immune system and disease works.Just to emphasis how little you actually know about MMR and how it is working - there are 99% vaccinated populations that are still experiencing outbreaks. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3930734/Something your are also clearly unaware of - neutralizing antibody titers (the stuff in your blood that tells you you are immune to a virus) are no longer at protective levels in older populations DUE TO VACCINATIONS. What does this actually mean?It means that mothers cannot pass on CRITICAL PASSIVE IMMUNITY TO NEONATES through the placenta pre birth and breast milk. You therefore have a two fold horror show occurring. Your very young children and your older population are becoming at risk of getting measles. Both ages ranges where the disease is MUCH MORE DANGEROUS.The science is CLEARLY showing that the vaccine is failing and is creating a true horror show that we are just now starting to experience and is evidenced by the increasing numbers of outbreaks in fully vaccinated individuals and highly vaccinated populations.So what do we do in a situation where a vaccine is not only dangerous in itself, but is ineffective and making things worse?Stop the programme IMMEDIATELY. Ensure we have protocols in place to tackle measles such as the vitamin A protocol that WHO recommend and the vitamin C protocol the Dr. Archie Kalekerinos implimented in Northern Australia with resounding success.This is how we protect Samoa and we urgently need to review the entire vaccine program in Samoa to ensure we are not making a bad situation worse.Edwin Tamasese

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A nation coming apart at the seams

I write in relation to some sad and tragic incidents with these poor little souls being abandoned without any regard to the almighty God who created these little lives, who by the way has been and still is watching and seeing whoever did these horrendous acts.You maybe able to hide it from the human eyes...but e ati le silafaga ale Atua ia te oe. Talofae ia te oe male tulaga lena ua e iai ile taimi nei. Ailoga e mafai na e moe, e le leai se filemu i lou mafaufau. E o'o lava ina e savali mae e fasa ile auala. Talofa e, e Alofa le Atua i tagata uma.This is the even more tragic side of this kind of act which should have been the first and foremost thing to look at if we as a nation are to find solutions.We need to fix the mentality that creates the situation, resulting in unwanted babies.Malo lava i le Samoa Family Health Association. O lo'o fai pea a latou galuega ile fa'ailoa o auala ese'ese e puipuia ai le fai ose pepe i taimi le talafeagai, so they are pushing their message of family planning etc.But they need to go out even further into the community.I thought there was a great suggestion by Rev. Aisoli Iuli about the baby Hatch. Yes its an overseas thing but if it saves one precious life, why not? These work very well overseas by the way.The message from the Samoa Victims Support Group is loud and clear. Malo Siliniu Lina Chang.If you're a young girl or any woman who finds themselves in this unfortunate situation as a result of poor decisions or whatever circumstance, please visit the SVSG and talk to them if you can’t talk to your family. There is help available.  There is a reason why the Maternity Wing was created at the Samoa Victim Support Group for this very purpose.There are not questions, no judgment. Just love and help for you.They can house you until the birth of the baby and either you take baby home or lots of folks are listed for adoption. Some one is ready to take baby home, not throw them away like this.Lastly, I believe we can resolve this issue with God as our Support and Leader.The government schools are doing some Sex Education but that is still not enough.It’s ok for the young people attending school but what about the young woman or girl out in the village or at home not going to school anymore and she finds herself pregnant? Tulou lo’u gutu male afi, o i tonu lava e pa'u ile faletua ole Ekalesia, aua e fai a tatou mafutaga a Tina i aulotu uma.This is a good way to bring the moms and young daughters of your congregations, and talk about this topic.Reassure them if it does happen because we are still in and of the world, there is always someone to talk to. Likewise the Fathers and young sons and men...THE BIBLE DOES SAY, YOUR BODY IS THE TEMPLE OF GOD.That’s my two cents piece. Collectively with Love and understanding instead of anger and condemnation. Samoa we can help each other. God bless.Manuia le Aso. Ma lo'u fa'aaloalo,Lupe-Lu Lohmann

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