15 Feb 2008

Samoa accused of not doing enough to overcome serious level of typhoid infection

3:55 pm on 15 February 2008

The World Health Organisation is accusing Samoa of ignoring the severity of typhoid infection in the country.

Typhoid is caused by bacteria and is picked up through contaminated food or water.

Symptoms include fever, headache, and constipation or diarrhoea, and recent data show the Apia hospital sees up to 15 suspected typhoid patients each day.

A WHO representative, Dr Ken Palmer, says typhoid is a huge health threat in Samoa, but he believes the ministry of health doesn't understand its gravity.

"Typhoid is a big health problem in Samoa, it has been for a long time, it seems to be a low priority so that the public health people have not really responded and we don't know where it's coming from, therefore we don't know how to take action."

Dr Ken Palmer is calling on the ministry to change its attitude towards the problem.

But the chief executive at the ministry of health, Palanitina Toelupe, dismisses this and says it's doing all it can to make sure it doesn't spread further.