With the death toll from the measles outbreak currently at 33 and climbing by the day, Clinical Director of the National Kidney Foundation Leituala Dr. Ben Matalavea says zero deaths next week must be Samoa’s mission in battling this epidemic.
Dr Matalavea says that with international assistance providing crucial medical equipment and added personnel, the death toll must not be tolerated.
“We cannot accept another death. Our aim is zero death by next week,”
“We must not fail our kids. We must do all we can to save them,”
“I acknowledge the tremendous expertise help from Australia and New Zealand. We have a lot of expertise help here now.”
Leituala says medical practitioners are pulling together with a can-do attitude to exploit every opportunity available.
“”We now have help and assistance for near death care and the extreme unwell. Together with all the prayers and fasting across the nation, our mission can be achieved.
“Everyone is working together now and I think zero death next week is a good mission”.
Dr Matalavea however showed concern with the late presenting of children to the hospital especially babies under 12 months old.
“Mothers and fathers and families must know what to do. Parents must seek immediate medical advice for babies under 12 months as they are the most vulnerable”.
Leituala says that mothers know best when their babies are not well and warns that late presenting could be the difference between life and death.
“If their breathing is too fast, or you notice that they cannot eat and drink normally, and develop a fever, then you must seek medical advice immediately – not the next day”.
“If transport is a problem, then ask your neighbours or faifeau, or even call 997 to be taken to the hospital,”
“Parents must understand that presenting late can lead to a poor outcome.”
Of the 33 measles related deaths, 40% or 13 have been babies 11 months old and below.
Dr Matalavea says it is imperative for the public to heed to Government’s State of Emergency Orders and get vaccinated.
“This needs a concerted effort by the entire community, in an holistic approach where we all play our part.”
Dr Matalavea is now based at the Faleolo Health Clinic four days a week, and says it is also important to advise the public that Leulumoega District Hospital is now the measles cases center for that whole area, while non measles cases and vaccinations are at Faleolo.
“Anything else non-measles will be seen at Faleolo hospital for that area. This is very important because we have had cases of measles presenting to Faleolo and that imposes a high risk of infecting all the other kids who are there for vaccination”.
The former Manager and Director of Clinical Services for NHS, Leituala also advises the public to refrain from activities that may lead to preventable accidents and emergencies.
“At this crucial time of strain upon our health care facilities and workers, please refrain from any activity that may cause an accident and avoidable injuries like drink driving and speeding,”
“We need to give all the space and hospital resources to the measles crisis if we can help it”.
Leituala says this is a time for the people of Samoa to focus on maintaining healthy diets, stop smoking and excessive alcohol, and ensure the children are given nutritious options.
“Please for the kids no fizzy drinks, no saimigi noodles but more natural foods like esi, bananas mangoes, pineapples, veges like laupele and maukegi with meat like fish, moa Samoa and cheaper options like faiai elegi, luau etc. Please no fizzy drinks at this time. Giu for something sweet to drink”.
Leituala also advised all diabetes and hypertension patients to be more careful at this time.
“Visit a GP or health center if they can, ensure they have their usual supplies of medicines and make sure they are diligent in taking their medicine and not run out so that complications needing hospital admissions are avoided,”
“These complications include leg infections and cardiac complications like heart attacks and heart failure. Keep to a healthy diet mostly veges and fruit, drink plenty of water and regular exercise.
Finally Dr Matalavea expressed his gratitude for organisations like ADRA and other church groups and even private caterers who have been providing nutritious meals for health workers.
“I’d like to acknowledge and thank the kind contribution from Adra and others who bring us nutritious meals. It’s a real blessing to have a nice cooked meal after a long stretch of work.”