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By Malia Sio and Terry Tavita

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Sept. 28) - Apia (Samoa Observer) - The number of Samoan children infected with the contagious viral disease Rubella, or German measles, is increasing, Director-General of Health Taulealeausumai Lolofietele Dr Eti Enosa confirmed.

He said that preliminary reports from the ongoing survey being conducted by a World Health Organization official indicated this. But he said he could not yet give figures, as the survey has not been completed.

At least three children have died from Rubella complications and there is growing concern amongst parents of children and women of child-bearing age.

As well as complications like those which killed the children, Rubella can also cause birth defects in the unborn child if pregnant women get the disease.

It is understood a complete report on the scale of the outbreak will be reviewed at a meeting of the Communicable Disease Committee on Tuesday morning.

It will be decided at that meeting if a mass vaccination program will be undertaken, the Samoa Observer has been told by Health Department sources.

Many people are already getting vaccinations through Apia's MedCen Private Hospital, which is charging SAT$85 for each MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccination.

During last week's funeral of one of the children to die. Kyle Keil, 9, his grandfather, prominent broadcaster and businessman Maposua Rudolph Keil, criticized the government's lack of action. Maposua's comments were broadcast live from the funeral by one of his
radio stations.

Taulealeausumai said that an estimated 112,097 doses of Mumps, Measles and Rubella (MMR) vaccination are needed to cover the whole country.

Taulealeausumai said that funding has already being secured if a program is needed and that immunization will be provided for free.

"We've already been assured of sponsorship from international agencies and overseas pharmaceutical companies," he said.

Taulealeausumai defended the need for the survey saying that proper action can only be taken after the degree of the impact of the outbreak has been determined.

He said: "Experience from overseas has shown that a poorly planned and improperly executed immunization campaign for rubella can be harmful in the medium and long term, causing more deaths and damaged babies than if nothing at all is done."

Taulealeausumai said the Ministry of Health, after consultation with the World Health Organization and the Center for Communicable Diseases, Atlanta, would like to make public the following statement on Rubella Disease.

September 30, 2003

Samoa Observer:


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