MOH laments lack of staff, will seek medical assistance overseas


Director General of Health, Aiono Dr Alec Ekeroma says Samoa will seek assistance from medical professionals in New Zealand and Australia if required. 

This is a result of the increasing number of flu cases and measles outbreaks in neighboring American Samoa. 

During a press conference with the media yesterday, Aiono said they do not have enough medical staff in light of the current situation in the Country. 

The Director General further noted that if measles does make its presence in Samoa it will not be as severe as the one in 2019 which claimed 83 lives and infected over 5,700 residents, mostly young children.

Cabinet this week approved the closing of all schools across Samoa are to remain closed from 1 May to 5th, as approved by Cabinet. This applies to government, mission, and private schools. All teachers are to report to their workstations and resume work under normal working hours from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday.

Teachers are to continue with their work on planning and distributing learning packages for this week. The Ministry will provide online resources and learning programmes through the Ministry’s website, television, and radio.

Aiono also used the opportunity to urge parents and guardians to take their unvaccinated children to get their MMR shots as it is the best defense against measles. 

Earlier this month Aiono told Radio Polynesia that MOH has ordered flu shots to assist with the flu outbreak in Samoa. Effective May 1, 2023, all travelers from the Territory (including infants aged 6 months and above) are required to be vaccinated with a Measles vaccine before entering Samoa. 

Children below 2 years of age must comply and infants aged 6 months to 15 months must have a single dose; while 15 months to 24 months should complete the required 2 doses. 

The Samoa Government has amended its travel advisories for all travelers from the territory as a result of the measles outbreak. 

“A legitimate vaccine certificate/note is required before boarding and a hard copy must be presented both at check-in and upon arrival into Samoa for sighting. Vaccine certificates in electronic form stored on phones or other electronic devices must have a QR code.” Meanwhile in the Department of Health has confirmed one new confirmed measles case in addition to the one case last week, which prompted the declaration of the measles outbreak. 

Meanwhile, American Samoa’s Department of Health has confirmed one new measles case in addition to the one case last week.

DOH’s Clinical Director, Dr Elizabeth Lauvao said the latest report confirmed two new measles cases in the territory. Another eight-year-old student attends the same school as the first student confirmed with measles. Furthermore, the number of probable cases has increased to 45 from 31 as of 3 pm this afternoon,” she said. 

Dr. Lauvao says the 17 vaccination sites remain open from 8 am to 2 pm and urges parents and guardians whose children have not received their MMR vaccine to visit the nearest site. 

According to the Clinical Director, they are awaiting the test results sent overseas for confirmation of the probable cases.