Friday 29 August 2014, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Noumea, New Caledonia –
The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) has mobilised a team of health surveillance specialists to help the Samoa Ministry of Health with public health surveillance at the 3rd International Conference of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
‘It is important to enhance surveillance to enable early warning of potential public health threats during mass gathering events such as the SIDS Conference, which will bring more than 3000 people from around the world to Samoa,’ said Dr Yvan Souarès, Deputy Director of SPC’s Public Health Division.
‘Visitors may come with infectious diseases like dengue, or measles, which is highly contagious, and they could also catch an infectious disease such as chikungunya while in Samoa and spread it to other regions of the world,’ he explained.
The mass gathering surveillance system currently in place in Samoa is designed to rapidly detect any suspected cases of infectious diseases and other public health risks, and promptly initiate control measures.
’We used a similar system for the Festival of Pacific Arts in Solomon Islands in 2012 and again last year in Wallis and Futuna for the Mini Games and last month for the 8th Micronesian Games in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, with very good results each time,’ said Dr Souarès.
Twelve syndromes (signs and symptoms of diseases) are monitored by health professionals in patients seen at ten key health facilities around the SIDS Conference area in Apia, including one based on the cruise ship that will accommodate many of the SIDS delegates.
A team of specialists from Samoa Ministry of Health, SPC, and the World Health Organization collect and analyse the data each day. They also conduct investigations and put control measures in place when needed.
This enhanced surveillance system, which started at the beginning of this week, will continue during the one-week period of the SIDS Conference and for one week after it.