Following a request for assistance from the World Health Organisation, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism has been activated to tackle the serious measles outbreak in Samoa.
Through this mechanism, two emergency medical teams from France and Norway are already in the capital city of Apia providing much needed medical assistance.
“With so many affected by the serious measles outbreak in Samoa, we have sent teams to support local medical staff in their response. Our thoughts are with all those affected and with the Samoan authorities and emergency medical teams that are managing the outbreak,” said Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management.
On 30 November, France deployed an emergency medical team made up of 10 paediatricians and specialised nurses from French Polynesia. While on 1 December, Norway deployed a 20-person emergency medical team that is part of the European Civil Protection Pool and includes 16 medical and 4 support staff.
The European medical teams are supporting the Ministry of Health and local clinical staff on wards and specialist units under the coordination of the World Health Organisation.
The European Union’s 24/7 Emergency Response Coordination Centre is in close contact with the authorities of Samoa and Member States to monitor the situation.
Samoa faces a large measles outbreak, particularly affecting the very young, many of whom have not been vaccinated. As of 1 December, there are 3,728 cases of measles and 62 confirmed deaths of which 58 are children. The number of patients is still increasing.
A mass vaccination campaign was put into place on 20 November 2019 and more than 58,150 people have been vaccinated so far.
Even with the provision of general medical care, there has been a high proportion of patients, particularly children and infants, suffering measles complications such as pneumonia. Many of them are in need of high dependency and intensive care treatment including ventilation machines.
The Government has closed schools and put in place travel restrictions ahead of the holiday season in efforts to control the outbreak.