Compiled by Pacific Peoples’ Partnership
As of 1:44 am EST Monday, December 9, 2019, the measles outbreak in Samoa was continuing. The death toll is currently at 70 (61 being children aged four and under). In the 24 hours to Monday morning there were 112 new cases. When the outbreak happened in October, 30% of the 200,000 population was immunized; now 90% are. Total cases are currently 4,693; 229 people are currently in the hospital including 16 in critical condition. While there have also been outbreaks in Tonga, Fiji, and American Samoa, these have been easier to contain due to higher immunization rates (in American Samoa there have still been nine cases, and travellers there must show proof they were vaccinated at least 14 days prior to arrival). Officials have told the public to hang red cloths or flags outside houses where people haven’t been vaccinated in order to deliver the vaccinations more efficiently. Last week most private and public workers were told to stay home, and roads were shut down to non-essential vehicles. Volunteers in New Zealand have been sending infant sized coffins decorated with butterflies to Samoa. Other than a Global Measles Notice from July 23, 2019, the Canadian government has not yet issued any travel advisories to Samoa regarding the measles outbreak.
Health authorities claim that anti-vaccination conspiracy theories were responsible for the low immunization rates. It is also likely that an event in 2018 caused the current crisis: Nurses had incorrectly mixed an expired anaesthetic with the measles vaccine, causing two infants to die. As a result, the Government temporarily suspended its vaccination program. While it was eventually restored, by that time many Samoan mothers distrusted vaccines.
URGENT FUNDRAISING NOTE: Pacific Peoples’ Partnership (PPP) is Canada’s sole charity and NGO devoted to the peoples of the South Pacific. Our President Muavae (Mua) Va’a is Samoan and still has many family members in this hard hit region, so this outbreak is devastating to him and fellow members of the Samoan diaspora. Mua had already planned to head home December 31 to Jan 13, 2020, so PPP is now collecting funds to help out the affected families. Mua will be delivering these Canadian donations directly to Samoan families in need. We can offer tax deductible receipts through our Pacific Resilience Fund, Donate to campaign #2 HERE
Please help us show that Canadians care by supporting the Samoan peoples as they fight this horrific illness, grieve their unspeakable losses and begin to recover.
Learn about the Pacific Resilience Funds
CBC The Current https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1654834243876