Measles outbreak: UNFPA deploys Fiji humanitarian team to Samoa

Measles vaccine Picture: JOVESA NAISUA/FILE

A HUMANITARIAN response specialist from the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) Pacific head office in Fiji has been dispatched to Samoa in light of the measles outbreak in the neighbouring island nation.

The team’s deployment will support the UNFPA in-country team to orient Samoan health service providers to the reproductive health kits that will be used to support the increasing demand for maternity and emergency obstetric services.

An obstetrician/gynaecologist from UNFPA Pacific arrived in Samoa yesterday to work with clinicians to maximise the response for pregnant women to manage the anticipated increase in complications of pregnancy, including premature delivery and low birth weight neonates.

Selected health facilities will be supported through the provision of reproductive health supplies, medical equipment, and drugs to enhance their capacity to provide emergency obstetric care for pregnant women and new mothers and their babies.

Multi-purpose tents will also be prepositioned in Samoa in case there is a need to set up alternative maternity facilities, a statement from the UNFPA stated.

Family planning counselling along with access to condoms and other contraceptives will be integrated into the community awareness-raising campaign to ensure that newly-vaccinated women do not get pregnant during the following four-week period.

In Samoa and 13 other countries across the Pacific, UNFPA works with governments, other UN agencies, development partners and humanitarian organisations to ensure the special needs of women of reproductive age are not left behind during emergencies.

The Samoan government declared a state of emergency on November 15 in response to the escalating measles outbreak.

According to Radio New Zealand (RNZ), 53 people in Samoa have died from the measles outbreak.

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