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

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Since our founding more than 100 years ago, we've been advocating for the rights of children worldwide. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming the future we share. Our results, financial statements and charity ratings reaffirm that Save the Children is a charity you can trust. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.


Thank you for signing up! Now, you’ll be among the first to know how Save the Children is responding to the most urgent needs of children, every day and in times of crisis—and how your support can make a difference. You may opt-out at any time by clicking "unsubscribe" at the bottom of any email.

By providing my mobile phone number, I agree to receive recurring text messages from Save the Children (48188) and phone calls with opportunities to donate and ways to engage in our mission to support children around the world. Text STOP to opt-out, HELP for info. Message & data rates may apply. View our Privacy Policy at