Samoa Measles Outbreak: Save the Children Deploys Emergency Health Unit to Support Response

Outbreak has Infected more than 4,000 and Killed 55 Children Under 5

WASHINGTON, DC (December 6, 2019) – A team of midwives and a doctor from Save the Children’s Emergency Health Unit will be arriving in Samoa on Sunday to support the government's response to the widespread measles outbreak. 

The outbreak has infected 4,357 people - mostly children - since the beginning of October. At least 63 people have died from measles-related complications, of whom 55 are children under five years old. [1]

“The situation in Samoa is very serious—many children have been hospitalized, and more are being admitted every day,” said Dr. Louisa Baxter, who is leading Save the Children’s medical team deployed to the response. “In addition, routine services such as care to pregnant women have been interrupted, leaving them without the support they need at a crucial time.”

The response team is part of Save the Children’s Emergency Health Unit, a network of health teams across the world ready to deploy to provide care and save lives in a crisis. 

“Save the Children’s team of clinical staff will work in the main hospital in Samoa to support the healthcare of women and small children. We are supporting Samoan Ministry of Health staff who have been fighting this outbreak tirelessly for months, along with other emergency medical teams from who are responding. 

"We are extremely concerned because of the potentially lethal implications measles has for young children in particular.

“Vaccination rates are extremely low in much of the Pacific, and measles is one of the most infectious viruses in the world— spreading via airborne droplets through coughing and sneezing. The measles vaccine is highly effective - after the first dose, up to 95 percent [2] of individuals will be protected. It is crucial to reach as many people as possible with the measles vaccine, particularly as there is no specific treatment for measles infection. Key measures to address it focus on the management of complications such as pneumonia and meningitis.” 

 

[1] Samoa’s Ministry of Health, December 2019

[2] World Health Organization

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