Media Release 19 November 2019|Counties Manukau Health is taking a lead as part of a medical emergency response to the measles outbreak in Samoa.
CM Health General Manager Pacific Health Development, Elizabeth Powell, is leading the response co-ordination for nurse vaccinators alongside the Ministry of Health NZ Medical Assistance Team (NZMAT).
She says the DHB is working alongside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAT) and other agencies to provide support to the island nation. The first vaccinators will travel to Samoa on Wednesday this week.
A total of 12 nurse vaccinators from CM Health, Primary Health Organisations, Immunisation Advisory Centre and other DHBs will be deployed to Samoa on a weekly rotation, for an initial period of four weeks.
The first eight nurses, including fluent Samoan speakers, will travel to Apia where the initial NZMAT assessment will determine what support is required and where vaccinations will be provided - in the community, health clinics and at the national and sub hospitals.
“It is an epidemic,” says Ms Powell.
“NZMAT and the New Zealand, Australian and Samoan governments are working together to contain the spread of the disease and to prevent any more deaths.
“We want to vaccinate as many people as possible against measles, with a focus on families with young children and other vulnerable demographic groups.
“After the initial four weeks, the situation will be assessed and, if required, support could continue. We will do all we can to help.”
Ms Powell says CM Health has a long-standing partnership with many of the Pacific islands and has been working alongside Samoa since 2007.
“Our aim is to support the development of quality health services and improve the health of people in the Pacific Islands.
“Apart from leading medical emergency and disaster responses through NZMAT, we also receive funding from MFAT to administer regional contracts with Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Vanuatu and Tuvalu under the NZ Medical Treatment Scheme (NZMTS) that includes overseas referrals for treatment in NZ.
“The NZMTS also enables our specialists to travel to and work alongside local medical staff in the Pacific to strengthen their capacity and capability, to enable them to develop a sustainable workforce.”