The New Zealand Defence Force is providing logistics support to a New Zealand government response to a Samoan measles epidemic.
CAPTION: A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules loads 50,000 measles and rubella vaccines in Nadi, Fiji. Photo by Infinity Images Fiji for UNICEF.
Nearly 4000 cases of measles have been recorded across Samoa (population 196,000) thus far, with the disease causing more than 50 deaths to date.
On Friday, following an urgent request from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules took an oxygen generator, oxygen compressors, condensers and bottles to Samoa.
The aircraft and crew then flew to Nadi in Fiji to pick up 50,000 measles and rubella vaccines provided by UNICEF for the Samoan government’s vaccination programme.
Today an RNZAF Boeing 757 transported to Samoa 2784kg of medical stores, including hand sanitiser, chilly bins for vaccine transportation, vaccine fridges, power supplies for the fridges and 150 cartons of medical supplies.
Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said the NZDF was prepared to do everything it could to support the government’s response to the epidemic.
“We’re working closely with MFAT to provide assistance through aircraft and manpower where it’s needed,” Rear Admiral Gilmour said.
“We’re glad we can do something to help our Pacific neighbours and our thoughts are with everyone affected.”
There have also been more than a dozen cases of measles reported in Fiji, where a mass vaccination campaign is about to kick off.