Samoa Measles Outbreak – New Zealand Response
New Zealand is supporting Samoa following a measles outbreak.
New Zealand has been working closely with the Government of Samoa and offering our assistance since the early stages of the measles outbreak. We are committed to supporting the Samoan Government’s response to this crisis.
New Zealand’s support to Samoa to date has included:
- 44 New Zealand nurse vaccinators working on one-week rotations. The nurses joined Samoa’s mass vaccination campaign, which has vaccinated 132,935 people since 20 November.
- 35 doctors, nurses and support staff who have deployed as part of the New Zealand Medical Assistance Team (NZMAT). The three NZMAT rotations have been working alongside Samoan health personnel, providing support and treatment in a district hospital on Upolu and the main hospital in Apia.
- Two deployments of Samoan-speaking medical professionals to provide support for the measles response and across the health sector, including psychological support for Samoan health staff and affected communities.
- Intensive care unit (ICU) specialists.
- Seven New Zealand Red Cross nurses, who are working with the Samoa Red Cross on the vaccination programme and measles response.
- A Biomedical Engineer to support the laboratory at Samoa’s main hospital, Tupua Tamasese Meaole.
- An engineer to support Samoa’s generation facilities under pressure at the height of the outbreak.
- Funding for 100,000 vaccines provided by UNICEF, and the supply of 15,000 vaccines from New Zealand.
- Medical supplies and equipment, including items to support oxygen production for Samoan hospitals, laboratory equipment to ensure effective medical testing of measles patients, vaccination fridges which are essential for storing vaccines, as well face masks, gowns, hand sanitiser, and stretcher beds.
- Press release 15 November: NZ medical staff and measles vaccines going to Samoa (external link)
- Press release 17 November: Further support for Samoan measles outbrea (external link)
- Press release 29 November: New Zealand to send more medical staff and essential supplies to Samoa (external link)
- Press release 13 December: New Zealand medical specialists to provide further support to Samoa (external link)
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Vaccinations are the best way to stop the spread of measles. The New Zealand Ministry of Health is advising people travelling overseas, including to the Pacific, to make sure they are fully immunised against measles before they go.
For more advice, see the measles information on the Safetravel website (external link).
The best support you can give is to donate money to an experienced and trustworthy organisation working on the ground.
UNICEF New Zealand has an emergency appeal for the Samoa measles emergency focusing on the vaccination programme. See more information on the UNICEF NZ website (external link).
Rotary New Zealand is accepting cash donations that will be used to purchase hospital equipment as requested by the Samoan Ministry of Health. See more information on the Rotary Oceania website (external link).
The Samoan Government has set up a bank account to accept donations to support the measles response:
- Account Name: BSP GOS Direct Transfer Fund Account
- Account Number: 2001-123104
- Bank Name: Bank South Pacific Limited
- Bank Address: Beach Road, Apia, SAMOA
- Swift Code: BOSPWSWS
- Donors are asked to add the note: “Measles Emergency Operations” when making deposits.
Think twice before donating goods
When disaster strikes overseas many people are keen to help, but donating goods at the wrong time can cause more problems, rather than help, relief efforts. They can get in the way of the delivery of life-saving humanitarian supplies such as medical equipment. They can be time consuming and difficult for the affected country to store, transport and distribute. Sometimes the cost of transporting goods can be more expensive than the value of the goods.
If you are going to donate goods it is best to only donate goods that have been asked for by an authority working on the ground.
Before organising a collection of donated goods:
- Find out whether the goods are needed on the ground, and if they are appropriate for the country.
- Ensure they are of good quality, not perishable and safe for others to use.
- Make sure you have a good understanding of all costs involved, including freight to the country, transport within the country, and any wharf, handling and customs charges.
- Make sure you have a clear plan for the goods once they arrive in the affected country, including people who will take responsibility for the logistics and costs of collecting, storing, sorting and distributing the goods.
Health volunteers in Samoa
The New Zealand Government has deployed teams of New Zealand health workers to Samoa as part of the official New Zealand support to the Samoan Government’s measles response. These teams are in response to official requests for assistance from the Samoan Government.
Individuals should not travel independently to Samoa to volunteer to be part of the measles response, even if they are trained and have clinical qualifications.
The situation in Samoa is complex. It is important that New Zealanders are part of a coordinated response. This ensures:
- New Zealand’s domestic clinical staffing needs can be met;
- New Zealand is helping to meet the most urgent needs and not putting additional strain on limited resources in Samoa;
- health and safety in a complex and challenging situation;
- language and cultural factors are taken into account.
If you would like to be considered for training to be involved in future deployments with the New Zealand Medical Assistance Team (NZMAT), managed by the Ministry of Health, more information on the application and training process is available here (external link).