The UNDP Resident Representative Ms. Liz Culty, CEO of the Ministry of Health Leausa Dr. Take Naseri and Digicel’s To’alepai Waikato Lefale at today’s press conference
BY Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – TUESDAY 21 MARCH 2017: Samoa is among the top three countries with the highest rate of chlamydia disease and a national awareness campaign has been launched to address this and other sexually transmitted diseases.
In a press conference today, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri confirmed the status of chlamydia in Samoa.
“Chlamydia has the highest rate in sexually transmitted diseases in Samoa,” said Leausa.
He said it is difficult to identify a person with chlamydia because there are no immediate symptoms to show that a person has been infected.
The only way data relating to chlamydia has been collected is when infected mothers visit the hospital for medical help and are tested.
Leausa said it is the same with HIV/AIDS where testing is important to diagnose if a person is infected or not.
“The difference between HIV and chlamydia, is that HIV symptoms eventually show at a later stage, whereas chlamydia, there are no symptoms,” said Leausa.
He encourages people not to be ashamed but to take advantage of the free testing service offered at the hospital.
Leausa Dr. Take Naseri specifically emphasized the importance for couples to be tested especially if one of the couple has partners outside marriage because chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease.
“The treatment for chlamydia is a single dosage which should be taken by everyone that has been in contact with the person tested positive of chlamydia,” said Leausa.
In 2015, the prevalence of chlamydia cases was recorded at 26%. No tests were done in 2016.
Chlamydia is one of the three diseases including HIV/AID and Tuberculosis included in the newly launched T3 Campaign currently run in four Pacific countries including Tonga, Vanuatu, Nauru and Samoa.
Chlamydia infection can cause permanent damage to the fallopian tubes in a woman and can lead to future infertility. Chlamydia infection during pregnancy also increases a woman’s risk of preterm labor and of having a baby with low birth weight.
The awareness campaign is run by the Ministry of Health with funding from the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) and assisted by Digicel through SMS messaging to bring awareness to everyone.
“Public health must be creative, we know one way to reach people is through their mobile phones,” said Leausa.
It is anticipated that 110,000 people would be reached in this campaign through Digicel’s network, and for the campaign to be successful, messages will be in Samoan and English with the “tailored slogan-T3-Talk It, Test It, Treat It.”
Leausa said the slogan refers to the need to:
- Talk about these issues as a community and promote awareness;
- Get tested for free at all National Health Services facilities to improve screening rates and surveillance;
- Get treated to reduce the transmission and to ensure a healthy life.