Samoa Measles Death Toll Could Be Much Higher than Reported

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Post mortem examinations of eight suspected measles related cases have recently been conducted and the Director General of Health says awaited results will confirm cause of death.

When Samoa Global News visited the national hospital morgue earlier this week there were an additional four babies being held there, awaiting autopsies.

These 12 cases are not yet included in the official death toll for Samoa’s measles crisis, currently at 78.

Responding to questions from Samoa Global News the Director General of Health Leausa Dr. Take Naseri confirmed that specimens from the autopsies completed had been sent away for testing.

“Faatoa uma lava ananafi, lea faatoa saini pepa e ave ai specimen i fafo.”

Tupua Tamasese Meaole TTM Hospital morgue entrance.

A health care worker who did not wish to be named because “noone is allowed to talk to media” said post mortems were ordered for babies who presented very late, mostly because families chose to seek traditional medicine instead.

“Post mortem operations were ordered because the babies had either died at home, or they died soon after they were presented at the hospital,”

“So even though they presented with symptoms such as rash and dry mouth, we still need to determine cause of death,” he said.

“Yes, results from the post mortems could add another 12 to the current death toll,” he added.

The current death toll also does not account for families who have buried their babies without notifying authorities.

Samoa Global News are in contact with three separate families who had lost their babies in the past weeks but chose not to seek medical attention.

One mother says that she buried her baby because she did not want her to be kept in a morgue to await a post mortem.

“O la ua tanu si a’u tama, matou te le mananao e ave fua i le falemai aua e avatu ona toe taofia lea ma fai mai e ave si au tama e tuu i le aisa. Ou te lei manao ai la”.

Another health care worker shares another unrecorded death with this message to Samoa Global News.

“I recall a baby we tried to save at (District Hospital) a few weeks ago the father just grabbed his baby girl must be about 9 months and stormed out of the hospital clearly very distressed and none of us is able to stop him. I have no idea if this case is reported or counted…I do not know what has come of it 😔”.