12 Jan 2018

Calls from NZ for more dengue awareness in Samoa

8:54 am on 12 January 2018

A New Zealand government minister and a tourist have both called for more public information about a dengue outbreak in Samoa.

The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, wants more dengue warnings to reach travellers leaving from New Zealand and Australia.

The Labour spokesperson for Pacific Peoples Su'a William Sio.

NZ's Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio Photo: RNZ/Daniela Maoate-Cox

Samoa's health ministry says nearly 2500 people contracted the mosquito-borne disease in the last three months of last year, and five of them died of it.

Aupito William Sio, who's currently in Samoa, says that on his way there he didn't notice much information for travellers about the disease.

"I'm not quite sure what the best way of getting the message out," he said.

"But I suspect probably having messages at the airport before people leave and at the airport when people arrive, whether it be Samoa or any other part of the Pacific, would be very useful."

A New Zealand tourist who has just returned from Samoa agrees that more needs to be done to keep people informed about the dangers of dengue.

Vao Muller said she learned about the outbreak prior to travelling and on arrival visited many popular tourist spots and villages.

Having contracted dengue before, she said she took precautions for her family including the use sprays and mosquito bracelets.

But Ms Muller said she was shocked to see no warning signs at the airport or accommodation facilities.

She said there was also little in local media about the outbreak.

Ms Muller said Samoans she met seemed quite blasé about dengue.

"I kind of expected that people there would be more aware of what was going on, but they weren't.

"From the lack of information that was available over there, I would hope that they are taking it seriously, but from what we could see, there was no evidence of that," she said.

New Zealand's Auckland Regional Public Health Service said it had seen a rise in the number of dengue fever cases in recent months, 70 percent of which could be traced to Samoa.

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Photo: 123RF