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Samoa's govt warns of psychological toll from measles epidemic

Measles epidemic logo
Source: RNZI

Apia, SAMOA — Samoa's Ministry of Health mental health unit has warned of the growing psychological impact of the measles epidemic and is urging people to seek help.

Seiulialii Dr George Leao Tuitama has told the Observer the unit had been working behind the scenes and so far had seen more than 600 families.

"For those personally affected, by loss of a family member, or watching their loved one in the hospital, this epidemic has pushed many people's coping mechanisms to the breaking point," he said.

The psychosocial support group at the mental health unit was actively reaching out to provide assistance, he said.

Seiulialii said the team was providing both emotional and spiritual support.

The death toll since the epidemic began in October is 81.

The government announced on Saturday it had cancelled the state of emergency it issued six weeks ago.

It had approved a state of recovery to begin immediately, with a plan expected for the Cabinet's consideration in two weeks.

To date, about 95 percent of all eligible people in Samoa have been vaccinated against measles.