Member Voices: From the Field in Samoa

From 1-28 December 2019, UK-Med deployed a team of 29 clinicians to Apia, Samoa to support existing national and international efforts to control the measles outbreak. The team comprised a mix of doctors, nurses and physiotherapists and treated an estimated 583 patients. We asked our clinicians to reflect on their experiences with the response.


Mark Clement, Paediatric Intensive Care Nurse

“My time in Samoa was both heart breaking, seeing the illnesses caused by the measles virus, but also heartening to see such unwell infants improve as a result of the care offered by the global teams and be discharged home. It was incredible to work among doctors and nurses who had trained in multiple countries and yet come together to work seamlessly alongside the Samoan teams in an expert and cohesive manner, an invaluable learning experience that can be played out in many parts of our own NHS system.”

Julie Flaherty, Emergency Medicine Nurse

“One of the great things about the deployment was the international leadership working with the Samoa Health teams who made herculean efforts to manage the measles outbreak the preceding month before our arrival and the integration with the Ausmat and New Zealand teams all of us bringing complementary specialist expertise in health skills. Furthermore and importantly for the nursing, all of us sharing care, competence, compassion and courage to Samoa aiding recovery from such a devastating disease.”

Yuheng Zhou, Paediatrician

“This deployment has been unforgettable. I am proud to be part of a wonderful NHS team, helping ease some of the workload and support a country under enormous strain. The Samoan staff have been working tirelessly for months, always with great humour and ever welcoming to new arrivals. I will certainly take back home this community spirit and am thinking of those away from their families during the festive period.”

Becky Platt, Paediatric Emergency Medicine Nurse

“We cared for some of the most critically unwell children I have seen in over 20 years of nursing during the measles outbreak in Samoa. While being incredibly challenging, the experience was also hugely rewarding, and I believe we made a real difference to children and families. It was an opportunity to work with outstanding international colleagues and to bring valuable skills and experience to our work in the NHS.”

Mark Randell, Paediatric Nurse

“Upon arrival in Samoa it was clear that in the few days the AUSMAT guys (team Charlie) had been there they were very pleased to see us. We were immediately felt to be part of the team and, with that, got stuck in. This allowed them some much needed downtime. I will bring back to the NHS a sense of gratitude to a great (albeit struggling) institution. I will be sharing my experiences and hoping to inspire fellow healthcare professionals to do similar work. My family is what keeps me grounded and it was all the more meaningful to return for Christmas, especially as my children are at university so it is the one time of year we really get together.”

Fay Whitfield, Emergency Medicine Nurse

“These two weeks in Samoa have provided me with much to reflect on. The particular things I will take away with me are the welcome we received by the local health service and community, the support we felt and camaraderie we developed between the Australian and New Zealand teams and how inspired I have become through working alongside the members of my UK team. This time has provided me with a unique clinical experience which I feel will enable me to enhance my colleagues’ and my own practice in our emergency department.”

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