London paediatric specialists Mark Clement and Yuheng Zhou have returned from the island of Samoa in the Southern Pacific Ocean where they treated critically sick children affected by a recent outbreak of deadly measles.
British medics like Yuheng and Mark who have spent the last two weeks fighting the outbreak are among the UK’s ‘humanitarian heroes’ who have helped millions of people around the world in 2019.
Mark, who is a paediatric nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital and Yuheng, who is a paediatric doctor based in Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust arrived in Samoa in early December as part of a UK aid funded Emergency Medical Team (UK EMT), following an urgent request for help from the Samoan government.
Since the measles outbreak was declared on 7 November, 5,331 measles cases have been reported with 75 confirmed measles-related deaths. Some 89% of these deaths were of children under five years old.
UK aid has been at the forefront of tackling major global challenges in 2019: fighting Ebola and dealing with humanitarian emergencies like the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh, Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas and Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. International Development Secretary Alok Sharma has today thanked the UK Emergency Medical Team in the South Pacific as well as other UK aid heroes working tirelessly across the globe to save lives.
International Development Secretary Alok Sharma said:
“I want to thank the British doctors and nurses who have helped to tackle this deadly outbreak and stop more families losing their children to measles.
“It is heart-breaking to hear about people suffering from a disease, which thanks to vaccinations is entirely preventable. We must continue to support Samoa in stopping this needless loss of life.”
Measles is a highly contagious virus that can spread to others through coughing and sneezing. Each case can infect many other people and complications can lead to pneumonia, severe diarrhoea and encephalitis or inflammation of the brain. The UK team is embedded within the Australian Medical Assistance Team (AusMAT) and is focused on treating children suffering from these complications.