Deaths not linked to lymphatic filarisis drug administration

PHOTO: The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – WEDNESDAY 29 AUGUST 2018: The deaths of a Fijian woman and an elderly Samoan man last week are isolated cases and are not linked to the lymphatic filarisis Mass Drug Administration currently in progress.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri fronted the media today in an effort to clear the air on rumours associated with the drug administration and the two deaths.

The Fijian woman has lived in Samoa for 16 years, and she took her filarisis medication at the Fugalei market three days before her death last Saturday.

“I have seen the death certificate, it says she passed away because of some overwhelming septicemia, most likely from a bad chest infection,” he explained.

“It’s sad that the death has been linked to MDA because it happened at the time of the drug administration.”

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The other death is a male from the Eastern side of Upolu with a known case of obesity.

“There is no record of him taking the filarisis medication,” said Leausa.

He also said they were advised about a child that allegedly took the medication twice then blacked out. “But the MDA team leader said there was no record of such incident.”

Leausa further clarified that unlike antibiotic pills that stay in the persons system for some time, the filarisis medication is a parasite drug which stays in the system for at least 6-8 hours then it is gone.

He insisted there was no link between the filarisis medication and the two deaths, and he hoped speaking to the media would clear the air of rumours that the filarisis medication was the cause of two deaths. 

Lymphatic filarisis increase in Samoa
The deaths has complicated the Ministry’s efforts to restore public confidence in the national drug administration campaigns. This follows the two babies’ deaths in Savai’i last month.

The purpose of the MDA is to eradicate filarisis from the country. Neighbouring island countries like Tokelau, Tonga, Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islands have eradicated the disease, and Samoa is trying her best to do the same.

This time, the Ministry is going directly to schools and engage in a door to door drug administration to ensure everyone is covered.