In response to the measles crises in Samoa, Porirua-based primary health care provider, Pacific Health Plus, in a joint project with Pacific Cooperation Foundation, are sending two staff to assist medical teams in Samoa.
“This is Pacific Health Plus trying to do what we can for our Samoan brothers and sisters,” says John Fiso, chairman of Pacific Health Plus. “We wish Kailua Faafoi, our senior nurse, and Dr Penehuro Tapelu, our Samoan qualified doctor, all the very best with their courageous journey.”
“This is a tangible and direct way for Pacific Cooperation Foundation to support this tragedy,” says Nicole Metzger, Chair of Pacific Cooperation Foundation.
Kailua left for Samoa on 9th December to help administer measles vaccines, while Dr Tepelu will leave later in the week. They will be housed in Samoa with help from Rohit Reddy and the Tanoa Group.
Dr Tapelu previously worked at Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital in Apia and is currently working in public health outreach for Pacific Health Plus.
Kailua has worked in the health sector for 12 years. She is from Tokelau, a close neighbor of Samoa and is a passionate primary health care nurse working for Pacific Health Plus.
“We hope this will help relieve the clinical staff who are working tirelessly to administer MMR vaccines,” says Pacific Health Plus Director, Lee Pearce.
“It is a tragic situation in Samoa and sending qualified staff to help is an extension of what we do at Pacific Health Plus,” says Lee. “Our family is not just contained to Porirua, the people affected in Samoa are our family too.”
“It is not the first epidemic in recent times, but when it is in your own backyard it is a real wake-up call and shows the importance of public health and the need to increase the Public Health workforce regionally,” Lee says.
Samoa has been hit hard by a measles outbreak that has so far claimed the lives of 68 people, mainly children.
As of Sunday 8th December the Samoan government stated that 4,581 measles cases have been reported since the outbreak, with 121 recorded in the last 24 hours.
According to a tweet by the Samoan government on December 8th, the push to vaccinate citizens since the outbreak hit has so far lead to successful vaccinations of: 76% of infants and children aged 6 months to 4 years; 88% of children aged 5 to 19 years old; and 85% of women aged 20 to 35 years old.
But there is still more work to be done.
Pacific Health Plus
Pacific Health Plus, based in Cannons Creek, Porirua, was established as a subsidiary of the Fiso Investment Group in January 2019. It was formerly known as Porirua Health Services (PHS) which had been operating for 10 years.