Counties Manukau nurses heading to Samoa as measles crisis worsens

Twelve nurse vaccinators from Counties Manukau Health are travelling to Samoa as part of an emergency response to the island nation's measles outbreak.

At least 16 people - mostly children - have died in Samoa from measles or complications of the death. 

The country declared a state of emergency on Friday due to the outbreak, with more than 1100 cases recorded. In the past 24 hours alone, 114 cases have been recorded. Approximately 98 percent of cases are in Upolu.

It has been reported the disease reached Samoa after someone from Auckland - which is experiencing an outbreak - visited the nation.

Counties Manukau Health general manager for pacific health development Elizabeth Powell announced on Tuesday that 12 nurses would travel to the island nation to help with the crisis. The first nurses will leave on Wednesday on a weekly rotation for about four weeks.

Powell told Newshub many Samoans are also Kiwis, so it makes sense to help out.

"Our families live in the Pacific. My family's in the Pacific. Our south Auckland people, their families are in the Pacific. We are interconnected. We are part of a bigger family," she said.

"The New Zealand Government asked Counties to work alongside the Samoan Ministry of Health and their health teams to look at vaccinating the children under the age of five and vulnerable populations who have not been vaccinated."

But Powell said efforts in Samoa may also have a flow-on benefit for New Zealand.

"By helping Samoa and supporting Samoa around this vaccination programme for measles, we can also be preventing the travel of measles back to New Zealand again."

After the four-week period, Powell says the situation will be assessed and support may continue if required. Counties Manukau has been working alongside Samoa since 2007 to support the development of quality health services.

Contact Newshub with your story tips: