BY MIKE TUA
THERE were no cases of measles detected over the past weeks throughout the Solomon Islands, according to the Director of Maternal and Child Health, Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS), Dr. Divinal Ogaoga.
“There have been no individual cases of measles confirmed across nine provinces in the country.
“Just to ensure the population is not worried; No measles cases have been reported so far in the Solomon Islands. Measles is a highly contagious disease, the likelihood that it will arrive here cannot be ruled out.
“Although no measles cases reported yet, the chance of importation is likely. We are prepared and hopeful the number of cases will be low,” Dr. Ogaoga told local reporters during the measles update briefing and press conference at the Regional Eye Centre Conference Room, National Referral Hospital.
He said routine immunization carried out throughout the country means most children are already vaccinated.
“Supplementary campaign for under 6 yrs. achieved 97% coverage nationally (WHO recommends 95%), but varies across provinces and it is possible some children may not be vaccinated.
“We need to be vigilant, and act quickly if we suspect measles,” Dr. Ogaoga said.
Recently, there have been measles cases now affecting some countries in the Pacific. The disease is now costing lives, with infants and young children most at risk.
The current situation in the region for 2019: Samoa declared outbreak on 16 October – 4819 cases, 70 deaths; Tonga declared outbreak 22 October – 485 cases, No deaths; Fiji declared outbreak on 7 November – 18 cases: No deaths; American Samoa declared outbreak on 26 November – 9 cases.
Vanuatu, FSM, RMI, Kiribati, Tokelau, Niue, Nauru and Cook Islands: either planning or implementing supplementary vaccination for children, and to close immunity gaps.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services reminded the public that they are closely monitoring the Measles situation in the neighboring countries and are also taking proactive measures to prevent the importation of measles virus in the Solomon Islands.
“The Ministry has constituted a high level working technical committee to monitor the situation and advise on measures to be adopted in the Solomon Islands to address the threat of measles. These mainly include ongoing mass immunization for children aged 6 months to <6yrs, intensifying surveillance, providing travel advisories, providing information and vaccinating identified at-risk groups.”