Traditional healers offer measles help

Two traditional healers have stepped forward to offer alternative treatment as the nation continues to fight the measles epidemic.

With the number of deaths from suspected cases growing every week and fears about the shortage of vaccination, Saumalu Saufoi and Kerupi Moananu, who are members of the Samoa Traditional Healers Association report growing interest in traditional medicine.

Government advice is to seek immediate help from a hospital if they show any symptoms or are suspected to show symptoms such as a fever or a rash. Children over 6 months of age upwards are encourage to be vaccinated.

But according to Mrs. Moananu, whose services are being used by some to complement modern medicine, what people refer to today as measles is part of a condition Samoans have been treating traditionally for years called the mumu.

Mrs. Moananu said one of her children was diagnosed with measles at the hospital. Instead of relying of conventional medicine and treatment, she used traditional medicine to help treat him. 

"We were given a water from the hospital to treat my child at but it wasn't helpful so I treated him using my knowledge as a traditional healer and he's now jumping and running around," she said.

Asked about the medication, Mrs. Moananu said she could not reveal it.

This is supported by Mrs. Saufoi, who said traditional healers have to protect their medication otherwise people will copy them.

"If we tell what leaf we use, the public will go looking for them as well and we will run out of leaves and then we'll have nothing to treat our patients and serve our country," she said.

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According to the traditional healers, the Association has not had an influx of patients as a result of measles outbreak.

But they say they are willing to help if patients want to try traditional methods.

"We stand by to help not just children but also the adults or anyone,” Mrs. Saufoi said.

“We're a bit worried because measles is getting worse by the day and if we cannot do anything about it, we'll have to see our children and ourselves slowly being taken by disease.”

The Association, which was formed in 2009, has seven official healers. Three of them are overseas to see their patients.

Mrs. Moananu and Mrs. Saufoi said they do not speak on behalf of the Ministry of Health but there are many areas where their knowledge and traditional healing methods compliment what is being provided at the hospital.

“Sometimes patients from the hospital that they cannot cure are referred to us. The Health trust us and they know what kind of patients we could be of help to.”.

Health authorities have issued a warning for parents to watch out for the symptoms of the virus which includes, fever, dry cough, runny nose, sore throat, inflamed eyes, and a rash and urged them to seek attention from medical professionals if they present them. 

The easiest way for the virus to be contracted is through close contact, especially when an infected person is sneezing, the Government says.

Parents are encouraged to bring in their children to be immunised to keep them safe and less vulnerable to the virus, especially if they are planning to travel overseas, specifically Auckland New Zealand. The immunisation threshold has recently been lowered from 12 months to 6 months for the first round of injections. 

 

 

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