Thursday, 12 December, 2019

Samoa’s Government Shuts Down in Response to Measles Outbreak

An apology posted on Garrick Tremain's website An apology posted on Garrick Tremain's website
Deanna Wagner | 04 December, 2019, 17:43

The death toll from a measles outbreak in Samoa has risen to 60 as of this Wednesday morning (December 4) in the latest outburst of a global epidemic of the virus. 52 of the fatalities are reported in children 4 years of age and younger.

"Let us work together to. convince those that do not believe that vaccinations are the only answer to the epidemic".

Malielegaoi was unequivocal in his message, telling his people "vaccination is the only cure... no traditional healers or kangen (alkaline) water preparations can cure measles". The Samoan island has a population of 200,000 who are deeply religious.

It says the disease is entirely preventable thanks to a safe vaccine that has been in use since the 1960s, and that measles deaths worldwide decreased by 84 percent between 2000 and 2016 to about 90,000 annually thanks to better immunisation.

"As a result of that, the vaccination program was halted while they investigated the cause", Keni Lesa, editor of the Samoa Observer told NPR. Two nurses were found guilty of manslaughter. "And a lot of parents became scared to take their kids to get vaccinated", he said.

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A state of emergency was declared in mid-November, with schools closed and children banned from public gatherings, such as church services, to minimise the risk of contagion.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her country was doing all it could to help curb the epidemic, including sending more than 50 medical professionals and thousands of vaccines to Samoa.

Other nations in the Pacific region, such as New Zealand, Tonga and Fiji, have also seen an uptick in measles cases.

The U.S., the United Nations, Australia, News Zealand, France, the U.K., China, Norway, Japan and a range of organizations including the World Health Organization and Unicef have provided help to Samoa. The World Well being Group (WHO) introduced in April that the variety of instances reported globally quadrupled within the first three months of the 12 months in comparison with the identical interval in 2018.

The numbers are higher for older children and adult women.