Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand (CANZ) has been working with partners in Samoa in response to the measles epidemic that broke out in the country last September. By January this year there were more than 5,600 confirmed cases of measles and over 80 deaths – mainly young children – out of a Samoan population of 200,874. Over two per cent of the population have been infected.
A state of emergency was declared on November 15 and a mass vaccination campaign was activated. Temporary clinics were set up across the country to provide vaccinations and treat people with symptoms of measles. Some 45,000 people have since received the measles vaccine.
Working with several NGOs on the ground to address the most urgent health concerns, Caritas Samoa collected essential supplies and mobilised volunteers to put together packages of supplies for patients and families.
Caritas Samoa has also been responding to the pastoral needs of communities. George Fa’alogo, CANZ’s Humanitarian Coordinator, said, ‘We were at a loss to describe the impact of this outbreak, especially for those families who have lost more than one child. We will continue to provide Caritas Samoa with support so they can continue their outreach work in these communities.’
You can support Caritas’ relief efforts for emergencies such as this by donating to Caritas’ Pacific Relief Fund: caritas.org.nz/donate