ADRA Samoa responds to deadly measles outbreak

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ADRA Samoa staff delivering packed lunches to medical staff at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital.

ADRA Samoa staff are working tirelessly in response to the deadly measles outbreak in the country.

According to ABC news, 32 children have died as a result of the outbreak—most of the victims are under the age of four. Last week the Samoan government declared a state of emergency and a compulsory mass vaccination campaign was launched. The government has also closed all schools and banned children from public gatherings.

ADRA South Pacific director Greg Young said ADRA Samoa, with its extensive experience in emergency responses, has been providing support to the medical teams and the many thousands attending vaccination centres by providing food at the centres.

Instead of heading to church on Sabbath, ADRA Samoa staff delivered packed lunches to medical staff at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole (TTM) Hospital in Apia. They have also been asked to extend the meals assistance to the hospitals at Leulumoega and Faleolo, all possible with funding from ADRA Australia, New Zealand, ADRA International and the New Zealand High Commission.

“We are blessed to serve, especially when we enter the wards and see the suffering,” said ADRA Samoa country director Su’a Julia Wallwork. “The nurses and doctors are doing their very best and putting in long hours. We are only playing a minor role in comparison.”

Also supporting the cause is nurse of 40 years, Paul MacWilliam, a graduate from Sydney Adventist Hospital. He was contacted by intensive care physicians in New Zealand to see if he had any ICU ventilators that could be sent to Samoa. Mr MacWilliam personally brought three ventilators with him to Samoa and has arrange for a further four units to be shipped there. The ventilators are for all sizes and ages, making them very flexible.

Mr MacWilliam has also reached out through Facebook and been in touch with more than 20 critical care nurses who are willing to help in the intensive care unit over a number of weeks.

In light of the closure of local schools, Samoa Adventist College has cancelled all end-of-year functions, except for the school’s prize-giving ceremony which has been postponed until January 16. Teachers will end their school year on Friday (November 29).

Measles outbreaks have also recently been reported in Fiji and Tonga.

“Please keep the people of Samoa, Tonga and Fiji affected by this outbreak in your prayers,” Mr Young said.