By Robert Gibson Telegraph Local__See My Blog
There is a ton of catastrophe, drama, history, and folklore embedded into this story. Ideas you’ve always trusted to turn out one way, can flip dramatically in a 24-hour period. The Samoan government were faced with the tough decision of declaring a state of emergency for its Pacific island nation.
The country is battling a measles outbreak and has lost 53 lives, mostly children. A total of 3,700 cases have been reported in October.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has closed all but public utility government services for Dec. 5 and Dec. 6 according to National Public Radio (NPR) quoting:
“Let us work together to … convince those that do not believe that vaccinations are the only answer to the epidemic. Let us not be distracted by the promise of alternative cures.”
He’s relying on “village councils, faith-based organizations, and church leaders, village mayors and government women representatives” to help support vaccination.
According to Keni Lesa, editor of the Samoa Observer, this outbreak had some historical influence that helped to escalate the infection ten-fold. Last year, two nurses were charged and found guilty of manslaughter. They improperly prepared vaccinations for two infants, resulting in their death.
Samoans regarded this case as a scandal and a serious threat to their own families. According to the World Health Organization, or WHO, just 31% of the population had been vaccinated prior to the (measles) epidemic.
At the time, they believed the fear of getting their children vaccinated was justified. Instead, it became a determining factor for the case of measles to flourish fast.
According to the The Guardian, the Samoans are being challenged by folklore in their efforts to vaccinate. Online influencers who claim to have alternative methods classify them as “cures.” Some traditional homes know of the benefits that tea leaves provide when it comes to fevers, but these new allegations of measle “cures” required a stand against tradition. WHO has debunked these “cures” in regards to being effective for the virus of measles. There has been no research to prove that any of these methods, besides vaccinations, actually work.
Samoas’ director general of health, Take Naseri urges hospital visits should be first saying,
“When people are desperate, they look for other ways to get assistance and we cannot stop that right of people to choose where they want to go. We give them all the information so they have an informed decision, and that is the very difficult part.”
Many other countries are beginning to get involved financially and professionally. We as a nation, can no longer play ignorant. That ignorance can jump start an outbreak of our own, right at our front door.