Nats hit Health Minister over Tongan mumps outbreak

  • 09/12/2017
There is a mumps vaccine available in New Zealand.
There is a mumps vaccine available in New Zealand. Photo credit: Getty

A mumps outbreak in Tonga could have started in Auckland and the Government should take responsibility, two Opposition MPs say.

Shane Reti and Alfred Ngaro believe Tongan and other Pacific Island rugby league players at the recent World Cup could have been exposed to mumps while they were in Auckland.

They're upset because when Health Minister David Clark was asked about it, he said individual countries were responsible for their own immunisation regimes.

"There are currently 1600 recorded cases in Tonga," Mr Reti and Mr Ngaro said in a joint statement.

"Is the minister saying that the complications of this disease such as deafness, sterility and meningitis don't matter in Pacific Island people?"

The MPs thinks the Government should offer advice to Tonga and help with its vaccination programme.

"The minister is displaying an appalling lack of responsibility," they said.

Between 2015 and 2018, New Zealand is expected to spend around $1 billion in aid to Pacific nations.

Dr Clark told Newshub mumps outbreaks in the Pacific are not uncommon.

"The latest outbreak in Tonga began in March and peaked in June – before the Rugby League World Cup. The suggestion from the two National MPs that Tongan Rugby league players that contracted mumps in New Zealand have somehow caused the outbreak in Tonga does not make sense and is irresponsible at best."

He said the Ministry of Health isn't aware of any requests for assistance from Tonga, which would actually come through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

"Anyone who needs treatment while in New Zealand will receive it, but individual countries are responsible for their own vaccination programmes."

NZN / Newshub.