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NZ to send more aid to Samoa to support long-term needs in measles epidemic fight

New Zealand will send more aid to Samoa to support long-term needs as it continues to grapple with the devastating measles epidemic.

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Helen Petousis-Harris joined TVNZ1’s Breakfast to discuss the epidemic in Samoa, where 39 people have died – mostly children. Source: Breakfast

Foreign Minister Winston Peters today made the announcement from Samoa.

It was announced that up to four anaesthetists will head over in the new year to support Samoan surgical teams as will Samoan-speaking medical personnel. Trauma support will also be given to health workers and impacted communities. 

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A Samoan-speaking biomedical engineer will fly over to support the installation and operation of new medical equipment provided by New Zealand and other donors. Funding will also be provided for a new oxygen generation plant for the national hospital.

“Samoa’s health system has experienced massive strain in the wake of the measles epidemic," said Mr Peters. 

He said the volume of patients needing care during the outbreak, and the number of very complex cases, has been "unprecedented for Samoa".

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"Samoa’s health system and workers are facing exhaustion and while there are positive signs we may be beyond the peak of the epidemic, there is still a way to go yet."

The announcement follows the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade today confirming that New Zealand is the likely source of Samoa's measles epidemic.

Measles has killed 72 people in Samoa since October.