Samoa enhances public health surveillance

​Samoa Ministry of Health will today start implementing enhanced public health surveillance for the Commonwealth Youth Games with technical support from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

Director General of Health of Samoa Ministry of Health, Toleafoa Leausa Dr Take Naseri said,  "This is necessary for our country's health security and likewise the health of the athletes, officials and supporters."

"As gatherings of this magnitude, with people coming from all different areas of the globe, provide an ideal medium for infectious and contagious diseases to spread via different ways, we need to monitor closely and have a good idea of the general health status of everyone before the event starts, during the event and after the event."

"This approach will provide a holistic picture of what's happening and, more importantly, if there is an outbreak we can produce an effective and timely response," Dr Take added.

Preparations to set-up enhanced surveillance for this large-scale event started last year just after the 3rd International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) that took place in Apia.

Dengue, Chikungunya, Zika virus, measles, influenza, leptospirosis and diarrhoea are among the list of priority diseases under surveillance.

Any unusual health events will also be reported and investigated promptly through the system.

"The system that our SPC team has developed is specifically designed to ensure rapid detection of, and prompt response to outbreaks and other public health risks," said Director of SPC Public Health Division, Dr Paula Vivili.

"It utilises web-based tools for quicker data entry, analysis and reporting, and event-based surveillance for the detection of unusual health-related events."

Ten syndromes (signs and symptoms of diseases) will be monitored by health professionals in patients seen at nine key health facilities in Samoa.

Four of the nine participating health facilities are based at the main sporting venues (Faleata Sporting Complex and Apia Park) and the two colleges that will accommodate all the athletes in Apia.

The enhanced surveillance system will run from 31 August to 18 September 2015.

SPC, in collaboration with regional partners, has provided support for enhanced surveillance for mass gatherings in the Pacific since 2012. Events supported include the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts in Solomon Islands (2012), the 9th Pacific Mini-Games in Wallis and Futuna (2013), the 8th Micronesian Games in Pohnpei State, Federated States of Micronesia (2014), and the 3rd International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Apia, Samoa (2014).