Health: Samoa

Staying Healthy in Samoa

Travel-Health

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Vaccinations

See the following website for vaccinations that are recommended for when visiting Samoa.

Mosquito borne fevers

In July 2015, an outbreak of dengue fever was confirmed in Samoa. Over 470 cases have been reported, with a large number of cases seen in the North West Upolu and Apia Urban area. On 9 August 2014, the Samoan Ministry of Health confirmed an outbreak of chikungunya virus in Samoa which is ongoing. It is strongly recommended you take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes, including using insect repellent, wearing long, loose fitting, light-coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof. For further information see the World Health Organization’s factsheets on dengue fever and chikungunya virus.

Samoa is experiencing ongoing transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus. The infection often occurs without symptoms but in some cases can cause fever, rash, severe headache, joint pain, and muscle or bone pain. There are no vaccines. All travellers are urged to protect themselves by taking measures to prevent mosquito bites. Given possible transmission of the disease to unborn babies, and taking a very cautious approach, pregnant women (or women trying to become pregnant) should consider postponing travel to Samoa or talk to their doctor about implications. See our travel bulletin on Zika virus.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including typhoid, hepatitis, filariasis and tuberculosis) are a risk, with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink purchased bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or you are suffering from diarrhoea.

Hospital and medical facilities in Samoa are limited and medical evacuation may be required in serious cases. There is no helicopter service available in Samoa. Local pharmacies have a limited range of medical supplies, and travellers should bring sufficient medication for their entire visit. To receive medical services in Samoa, you may be required to pay in advance and provide a deposit if hospitalised. Medical evacuation by air ambulance to Australia or New Zealand is extremely expensive. Evacuations using commercial airlines may be delayed during Australian and New Zealand school holiday periods when flights are often heavily booked.

SwinHealth

Did you know that Swinburne offers pre-departure travel medical advise, support and services via SwinHealth. There is a wealth of important pre-travel information that you will need to become familiar with before departure.

Other very important steps to consider before attending the pre-departure workshop (1) for Samoa are:

  • Consult your doctor or SwinHealth for pre-travel preparation at least six weeks before you travel;
  • Make sure you have updated your vaccine needs for travelling to Samoa such as booster shots, new shots required (such as Tetanus, Hep A & B, Measles);
  • Inform your unit Convenor of any medical conditions that may impact your time away and/or the group; so a management plan can be put in place for best outcomes;
  • Prepare your medications for travel: these must remain in the original medicine bottles that clearly label your doctor’s and your information. For example, prepare your medicines for Asthma, Diabetes, Epilepsy and for sever allergies as well as any regular medication you will need while away. You will not be able to acquire script refills while in-country so make sure you have enough medicines for your travel duration.
  • Prepare a First Aid kit for your time in-country: you can include things like: hydrolite, panadol, antiseptic cream, blister block dressing, pressure bandages, gastro stop, mosquito repellent (make sure it has no more than 40% Deet, stronger than this may irritate your skin – and use the roll on or cream version for better results if you can purchase this), water purification tablets, soap, wet wipes;
  • Be aware of the climate as the most common illnesses and visits to the hospital by students while in-country are: dehydration and gastro.
  • Update your first aid training.
  • Review the University’s insurance policy and make sure you’re aware of what is not covered.
  • Consider taking out extra insurance for health and accidents.
smartraveller.gov.au. 2017.Samoa. [ONLINE] Available at: http://smartraveller.gov.au/countries/samoa  %5BAccessed 29 March 17].

For more travel information visit the Australian Government’s ‘Smartraveller’ website.

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