18 Nov 2019

Measles epidemic: NZ to send 18 more nurses to Samoa

6:12 pm on 18 November 2019

New Zealand has announced a deployment of 18 more vaccination nurses to support the Samoan government's response to the measles epidemic.

Winston Peters

Winston Peters. Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters said that would bring the total number of New Zealand nurses up to 30 working in Samoa over the next four weeks.

A New Zealand Medical Assistance Team of 10 doctors, nurses, and support staff would deploy to Apia early tomorrow, Mr Peters said.

The nurses would support Samoan health personnel in an over-burdened hospital in Upolu.

"We fully support Samoa's efforts to immunise its population, contain the outbreak, and treat patients who are ill.

"The vaccination nurses will support Samoa's immunisation programme, which is targeting the most at risk populations," he said.

The announcement comes after Samoa declared a State of Emergency on Friday to deal with an epidemic, which has taken at least six lives and included more than 700 suspected cases.

Last week, New Zealand deployed 12 vaccination nurses, vaccines and medical supplies to Samoa.

A live coldchain vaccine delivery of MMR in Samoa.

A live coldchain vaccine delivery of MMR in Samoa. Photo: RNZ Pacific / Jenny Meyer

Meanwhile, Samoa's National Emergency Operation Centre said on Monday it had assumed responsibility for the measles epidemic and was managing an action plan for fighting the disease's spread.

A freelance journalist in Apia, Maina Misa Foma'i Papalii, said locals were worried.

"Some of the people are asking questions - whether they should be going home or it will be an early Christmas holiday right now - to avoid the spread of the measles."

Immunisation efforts were being hampered by false warnings against vaccines on social media, she said.

The government has announced compulsory mass vaccinations, with all children aged from 6 months to 19 years urged to get their vaccines. Women between the ages of 20 and 35, who aren't pregnant, are also being urged to go.

Vaccination Centre locations.


The Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital Immunisation Clinic, Monday to Friday from 8am - 8pm and Saturdays 8am - 1pm.

Samoa Family Health Association, Opposite the hospital - Motootua: Monday to Friday from 8am - 8pm and Saturdays 8am - 1pm.

Wellness and Youth Friendly Service (Old Diabetic Clinic) at Matagialalua, Eleele Fou, from Monday to Friday at 9:00am to 5:00pm.

Rural District Hospitals: (Leulumoega, Poutasi, Lalomanu) and Community Health Centres (Faleolo, Lufilufi, Saanapu) from Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 8pm

Mobile Service Unit at the Samoa Red Cross Compound, Tuanaimato from Monday to Friday from 8am - 5pm.


The Malietoa Tanumafili II Hospital at Tuasivi. Monday to Friday from 8am - 8pm and Saturdays 8am - 1pm.

Rural District Hospitals (Sataua, Safotu, Foailalo) and Community Health Centre (Satupaitea), Monday to Friday from 8am - 8pm

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs