Dengue alarm angers M.P. Olo

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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SPEAKING OUT: Olo Fiti Vaai.

SPEAKING OUT: Olo Fiti Vaai. (Photo: Samoa Observer)

Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, is a worried man. 

He is alarmed by the number of dengue fever patients at the Moto’otua Hospital – especially young children. 

He has also questioned why many schools remain opened when from his research; he found that many children had contracted the virus from other students at school.

“Dengue Fever a serious virus and I am furious about the lack of a full force campaign to eliminate the mosquitoes breeding sites,” he said. 

“My visit to the hospital was a clear indication about the seriousness of the problem and from speaking to the nurses and health workers, it became clear that most of the children hospitalised were affected from the schools. 

“Why are the schools are still open then when the government knows this is a source of the problem? They should have shut down the schools already while the government deals with this predicament head on? 

“There is clearly a need to clean the school campuses or target the areas where many of the patients are coming from, to eliminate dengue fever.”

Olo is also concerned about overcrowding at the hospital. Security guards prohibit the media from filming and taking photos in the wards.

 “I’m telling you the hospital is overcrowded,” Olo told the Samoa Observer.

“I’ve seen so many children being admitted for dengue fever and some have been sent home with treatment instructions. What I want to know is why there is very minimal awareness about this?”

Contacted for a comment yesterday, the Director General of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri referred questions to the Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr. Leao Tuitama.

Tuitama asked to give him some time to collect the information he needs from the Ministry of Health’s surveillance team. 

Last month, Leausa announced the outbreak of dengue fever type two. At the time Leausa called on the public not to panic but to take immediate action to eliminate mosquito-breeding places. 

“We have been monitoring this but it has now reached an outbreak level,” he said. “This is a virus transmitted by mosquitos and it’s not new in Samoa, but with these viruses there are often outbreaks on and off." 

But Olo said he was not happy with how things are handled by the Ministry of Health. 

“Dengue fever will take lives of our children if we don’t act immediately,” he said. 

“The Cabinet should have been informed of how critical the situation is currently. I visited the hospital and it was unbelievable how over crowded the pediatric ward is with the number of sick children. 

“I was told some of them were sent home because the hospital cannot take any more patients.”

Olo said members of the public need to understand the dangers of dengue fever.

When the outbreak was announced last month, Leausa emphasized the importance of source reduction as the main weapon of prevention.

 “This is where the mosquitos breed and if we can control that then there will be no mosquitoes,” said Leausa.

 “And that is why we need to control the breeding sites. It comes down to you to clean your around your house and look for anything that can store water that is where the mosquitos will breed thousands of new adult mosquitos." 

“We need to cut the cycle,” he said. 

Leausa emphasized the main method to control or prevent the transmission of dengue virus is to combat vector mosquitoes by preventing mosquitoes from accessing egg-laying habitats by environmental management and modification. 

He calls for proper disposal of solid waste, cleaning of domestic water storage containers and applying of appropriate insecticides to water storage outdoor containers. 

He also noted the need of using personal household protection such as sleeping in mosquito nets, long-sleeved clothes, insecticide-treated materials, coils and vaporizers and also spraying during outbreaks as one of the emergency vector-control measures. 

He said there were indoor mosquitos that hid in dark places. 

“Samoa usually responds well to this." 

“When we had the chikungunya, the ZIKA, we were quite amazed with the response and we were able to control the virus within months." 

“So the main reason we are releasing this information is not to panic our people, but to advise and inform our people there is a dengue outbreak around.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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