P.M. deflects measles blame, points to parents instead

Prime Minister, Tuliaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, has fended off criticisms that his administration is to be blamed for the measles outbreak that has already killed 60 people.

The Prime Minister has also dismissed claims that poverty had anything to do with families affected by measles. 

“Some people have said that poverty is the cause of measles and it is because people don’t live in nice houses,” Tuilaepa told the media.

“That is not the reason why we have measles. It was carried to Samoa by a person from New Zealand that came to Samoa. 

“If you drive from Apia to the airport, you see a lot of nice family homes, so people living in nice houses have nothing to do with measles.” 

As for the children who have died as a result of the epidemic, Tuilaepa said the parents, especially mothers, are to blame for not vaccinating the children. 

He emphasised the measles outbreak in Samoa is caused by the low vaccination coverage and the Government is moving to ensure that everyone gets vaccinated. 

“Many people had measles (in Samoa before)," he said.

"But it is different now. It has killed many because people have not gone to get vaccinated and others have taken the sick kids to alternative treatment instead of the hospital,” he said. 

“That is the main reason why our people are affected by this.”

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He said the traditional healers have always been around and are useful to treat Samoan illness that many are familiar with. 

However for measles, he said the only cure for the virus is to get vaccinated. 

Tuilaepa said the two day shutdown will allow Government officials to visit family homes to ensure every member of the family gets vaccinated. 

Families were asked to hang a red cloth on their fence so that the mobile team can know there is a member from the family that has not been vaccinated. 

The Prime Minister compared the use of the red cloth to the blood of a lamb that saved the Jews during the Passover in the book of Exodus. 

He said once the mobile teams see the red cloth this will inform them that a family member needs help to get vaccinated. 

Furthermore, Tuilaepa said claims that the Government should stop its development in other areas other than health is foolish. 

“The Government cannot stop other developments like the seasonal workers that is assisting a lot of families with the income from those developments,” he said. 

“There are also developments in education with $13 million being allocated in church schools and private schools to assist in educational programmes. 

“If we stop those developments then our children will be uneducated.”

Tuilaepa said those who continue to complain about Government developments need to stop worrying, sit down and listen to the orders and instructions on the vaccination campaign.  

About the door to door vaccination campaign, the Prime Minister said it is difficult to vaccinate everyone if people are at work and moving about. 

He added this is why it is important for people to stay at home and stop them from driving during the vaccination hours.

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