MOH Awaits Test Results for 11 Month Old Suspected of Measles

Motootua National Hospital. Photo: Samoa Global News.

Translated from FaaSamoa. The Ministry of Health say they are awaiting test results for an 11 month old baby suspected to have measles.

The toddler was admitted on Sunday to the Motootua National Hospital, said the Samoa’s Health Director and MOH Chief Executive Officer, Aiono Dr Alec Ekeroma.

Dr Ekeroma said another child was admitted last Friday, also presenting with symptoms of measles. Aiono says samples from both children have been sent to New Zealand for testing.

The Health Director General said there were three more cases of children tested for measles in the past two weeks, however, their samples returned negative.

Samoa was struck with a tragic measles pandemic in late 2019, claiming 83 lives with many more unrecorded.

There were over 5,700 recorded cases or 3% of the population contracted measles between September 2019 and 7 January 2020. Most of the death toll were babies under four years of age.

Low vaccination rates was attributed as the major cause of death amongst babies.

An incident in 2019 where two babies died in a Savaii hospital while receiving their MMR1 shots caused widespread speculation amongst parents who chose not to immunise the children.

Although the Court laternfound the cause of death to have been professional error in judgment by the nurses

although the Court found the cause to have been professional error in judgment by the nurses

68 the measles pandemic reached Samoa in August 2019, the vaccination coverage for measles was between 31-34% compared to neighboring Pacific Islands who had coverage rates of 99%.

Samoa was devastated by the pandemic that saw a State of Emergency declared, schools shut down and public holidays set aside for nation-wide immunisation efforts.

According to Dr Ekeroma, the current coverage for MMR1 is at 82% while MMR2 is at 45%. “We hope to achieve at least 85% for both MRR1 and MMR2,” said the Director General.

“There are currently four teams going out each day, to ensure vaccination numbers are brought up quickly,” he added.