SOUTHLAND nurse and midwife Anne Dymond looks proudly on her phone at the photo of a Samoan mother holding her 1-year-old child.
This same mother had brought her youngest, a very sick 3-month-old baby, to the Leulemoega Hospital in Samoa two weeks ago to seek assistance.
The baby had measles.
Despite wanting help, the mother wanted to take her baby home.
“I noticed she (the mother) kept touching her breast. She kept saying ‘family’ and we couldn’t understand what she meant.”
The mother was chronically engorged with milk it transpired she wanted to go home because she needed to breastfeed her 1-year-old child at home.
Mrs Dymond convinced the mother to hand express her milk.
“We got 70ml of milk into a urine pot, as it was the only thing available, which we stored in the fridge and because she knew her (1-year-old) baby would be fed and she felt much more comfortable, the family decided to stay.”
If the family had gone home, Mrs Dymond is sure the outcome for the 3-month-old would most probably have been fatal.
Mrs Dymond was a member of the New Zealand Medical Assistance Team (NZMAT) Alpha who has just returned from a two-week deployment in Samoa.
NZMAT is a volunteer disaster medical assistance team, organised by the Ministry of Health, made up of doctors, nurses, paramedics, allied health, and non-medical members such as logicians.
The team is deployed when countries seek assistance from New Zealand to assist and support in times of disasters.
Unfortunately not all the cases in her last deployment to Samoa were successful. Attempts to resuscitate two other children failed.
“Sometimes the babies would have secondary infections. They would sometimes get pneumonia.
“Then they go into respiratory arrest. We would have to try and resuscitate them.
To hear the guttural cries of mothers who have lost their children haunts you.”
As of December 2, there were 55 deaths in Samoa as a result of the measles epidemic and 3881 cases reported. The Samoan Government has made vaccination compulsory for all people, but depending on the vaccinations available on any given day, sometimes people have to wait for them.
Despite the challenges, Mrs Dymond says there have been many successes.
In one day, she and the team she worked with vaccinated 890 people vaccinations. She also delivered three babies while there one was named Annegelo, another Anne.
Mrs Dymond is only home for a week, and she will rejoin the NZMAT Charlie team, which will relieve the team presently deployed to Samoa, after she attends her graduation for her Masters in Health (Midwifery) with Distinction at Victoria University next week.
For the mother of seven children, who became a nurse when she was 50 years old, and celebrated her 61st birthday in Samoa last week, the hope is to continue to assist the people of Samoa.
“We know we’re making a difference, that’s what we wanted to do was make a difference and to support the (Samoan) staff who have worked so incredibly hard.”