Host National Society presence: Samoa Red Cross Society (SRCS) is one of the core members of the Health Sector and a standing member for Disaster Advisory Committee which holds mandate in any disaster or emergency response within Samoa. SRCS has a long history of its independent role that advocates for the betterment and improvement of lives and well-being of most vulnerable people. SRCS has been involved in various mass emergency operations such as Tropical Cyclone (TC) Heta in 2004, Samoa earthquake and tsunami in 2009, TC Evan in 2012 and TC Gita in 2018.
Although SRCS has experience in fast-onset emergency operations, the current measles outbreak is a slow-onset health emergency which can evolve to become a significant health disaster. SRCS’ mandate still stands as a lead in first aid response and capacity building, and support various sectors, including this response, to the Ministry of Health. SRCS’ role and key responsibility have been recognized by the Samoa Government, communities and partners. SRCS has over 2,000 volunteers at all levels, and in this operation to date, SRCS has 65 volunteers involved in response for first aid, hygiene promotion and medical assistance as well as more than 100 blood donors who are also referred to as SRCS volunteers.
Red Cross Red Crescent Movement partners actively involved in the operation: SRCS is working with International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) and New Zealand Red Cross in this operation. Surge support has also been provided by the IFRC Country Cluster Support Team (CCST) Pacific in Suva, Fiji.
Other partner organizations actively involved in the operation: SRCS also works in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH), first response agencies and coordination with National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC). Other partners involved with SRCS alliance are its international agencies such as UN-Women and UNFPA. As a health emergency, SRCS with IFRC CCST surge support will also coordinate and share information with WHO and UNICEF.
A. Situation analysis
Description of the disaster
The Ministry of Health held a news conference in Apia on 9 October 2019 to announce a suspected measles case that may be transmitted from the Auckland outbreak. The MoH further reported that if laboratory results sent to Australia were positive, an outbreak would be declared. The Government of Samoa planned to set up isolation facilities for patients with measles, creating space in Apia for a children's pop-up vaccination clinic to increase immunization levels amongst key age groups from six months to 19 years. WHO warns against unnecessary air travel to Samoa and additional passenger surveillance had been implemented at the main international airport.
Based on the data from National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC), on 15 November, Government of Samoa declared a state of emergency for the measles outbreak for 30 days, and in response to the declaration is the activation of the NEOC as per the National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP) under the National Disaster and Emergency Act 2007. According to NEOC, following the declaration of the state of emergency, the MoH confirmed a total of 2,936 measles cases have been reported to the disease surveillance team, since the outbreak was notified on 19 October 2019. Click here for map.
On 19 November, a Health Sector meeting was called and coordinated by MoH for its sector partners and stakeholders in preparations for measles vaccination undertakings. There was a teleconference to further update IFRC CCST Health and DM team members about the current situation of the measles outbreak in Samoa.
As of 28 November, there were 250 cases recorded in the last 24 hours and 39 measles related deaths have been recorded. Approximately 98 per cent of the measles cases are from Upolu and notably concentrated in the Vaimauga West and Faleata West districts with about 92 per cent admission rates, of which highest are among children below the age of 5 years. The scope is described as a huge response towards the reach, and the coverage had also indicated that more work remains to be done.