The Ministry of Health is currently implementing a program to eliminate typhoid in Samoa.
According to Dr. Tagaloa Robert Thomsen, the Assistant Chief Executive Officer (Health Service Performance and Quality Assurance – Medical and Allied Division), the program was initiated towards the end of 2018 and is called “improved surveillance and microbiological capacity for detecting and managing typhoid”.
“The aim of the program is to eliminate typhoid or basically get rid of typhoid – which is funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – through the University of Maryland School of Medicine in America.
“Works will be conducted over a three-year period so starting from improving surveillance, and in terms of laboratory picking up the typhoid and then informing us, and then we go to the families and do contact tracing and collect samples,” he said.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer in an interview, Dr. Tagaloa said one of the highlights of the newly-created program was the detection of two “healthy carriers”.
“Two healthy carriers – meaning healthy people are walking around during normal life’s work but have the typhoid bacteria – and they are spreading the bacteria wherever they go.”
Dr. Tagaloa said they continue to promote the program and hope that after all data is collated, a request can be made for typhoid vaccines in order to undertake a mass vaccination program in Samoa.
“At the moment, we still can’t bring in the vaccine due to statistical and scientific reasons, but we are still arguing on. So now we are working on getting the numbers and look further into the cases – with the hope to justify once and for all that we need to bring in the vaccine to the people – that can supply vaccines,” he added.
Typhoid is an infectious bacterial fever with an eruption of red spots on the chest and abdomen and can cause severe intestinal irritation.
According to the Communicable Diseases Surveillance Bulletin December 2018 issued by Samoa’s Ministry of Health, there were 111 confirmed cases of typhoid in Upolu with 11 cases alone last December.