Foreign Minister Winston Peters has announced further support to Samoa in the wake of an ongoing measles outbreak in the country.
Additional medical supplies and personnel, including a third rotation of New Zealand’s emergency medical assistance team (NZMAT), further nurse vaccinators, intensive care (ICU) specialists and Samoan-speaking medical professionals, will be deployed from today.
“The Samoan health system is under serious strain with growing numbers of people, many of whom are very young, needing complex care as a result of the measles outbreak,” Mr Peters said.
“We have been working closely with the Samoan Government to ensure we are providing the resources that are needed.
“This latest package of support includes funding a further 100,000 Measles and Rubella vaccines and a machine to support oxygen production to help meet the unprecedented demand for oxygen in Samoan hospitals.
“Samoan health workers have been grappling with the outbreak for a number of weeks. New Zealand will deploy up to 15 ICU specialists, as well as additional Samoan-speaking doctors and nurses, to work alongside medical staff from Samoa and other partners and provide relief.
“New Zealand is also looking to provide psychological support for health workers in Samoa, who have been confronted with some distressing cases in very demanding conditions, and communities that have been affected by the health crisis.
“This is a very difficult time for Samoa, and our sympathies are with everyone affected,” Mr Peters said.
The ICU specialists and medical supplies announced today are in addition to the nurse vaccinators, New Zealand Medical Assistance Team (NZMAT), and medical supplies that New Zealand has already committed to the response.
New Zealand’s support to Samoa to date has included:
- 32 New Zealand nurse vaccinators working on one-week rotations. The first team was deployed on 20 November, with a second team arriving 27 November, and a third planned for the following week. They are joining Samoa’s immunisation programme, which is targeting at-risk populations.
- A New Zealand Medical Assistance Team (NZMAT) of ten doctors and nurses and support staff were deployed on 19 November. They are being relieved by another team arriving this week. NZMAT are working alongside Samoan health personnel, providing support and treatment in a district hospital on Upolu that is facing heavy demand due to the outbreak.
- Six New Zealand Red Cross nurses, who are working with the Samoa Red Cross on the vaccination programme and measles response.
- Medical supplies, including vaccination fridges (which are essential for storing vaccines), face masks, gowns, hand sanitiser, and stretcher beds.