Sheba Medical Center’s Assistance Urgently Requested by World Health Organization (WHO) for Deadly Samoan Measles Outbreak

December 9, 2019

Summary: A team of medical experts from Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, Tel HaShomer is deploying to Samoa to aid in a deadly measles outbreak in response to an urgent call from the World Health Organization. The team of intensive care physicians and nurses plans to stay approximately two weeks, providing local healthcare workers with much-needed expert assistance.

RAMAT GAN, Israel, Dec. 9, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — A team of medical experts from Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, Tel HaShomer is embarking on an emergency deployment to the Pacific island nation of Samoa following an urgent request from the World Health Organization (WHO) for humanitarian aid. Samoa is currently facing a deadly measles outbreak that is killing those who have not been vaccinated, especially young children and pregnant women.

More than 4,000 people have been diagnosed with the measles so far, with hundreds more contracting the disease almost every day since the outbreak. Over 60 people have died during the outbreak, most of them infants and young children. The sheer number of patients requiring high dependency and intensive care treatment, including ventilation, has overwhelmed the capacity of the local hospital wards and staff.

In response to this medical crisis, a team of experts from Sheba Medical Center’s dedicated humanitarian unit, the Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response, are mobilizing to quickly provide much-needed relief. The team, which left Israel this weekend and plans to stay for approximately two weeks, is composed of six nurses and two pediatric specialists.

The Sheba medical team to Samoa is led by Dr. Itai Pessach, the head of Sheba’s Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital and Assaf Luttinger, RN, who is the Deputy Director of the Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response.

“In this particular mission, we will not need to deploy our field hospital or need to bring measles inoculations to Samoa. Because the Samoan healthcare system has been simply overwhelmed by the sheer number of cases, we have been asked to bring hands and heads to the affected areas,” said Director of the Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response Prof. Bar-On. “Once our team lands in the capital city of Apia on Monday, our team will be deployed to those locations where we can be of the most assistance and help save lives.”

Prof. Bar-On founded the Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response at Sheba Medical Center in 2017. Teams from the Center, consisting of experienced doctors, nurses, allied professionals and specialists, has traveled around the globe – to Zambia, Papua New Guinea, Mozambique and beyond – to assist in emergency medical situations. Humanitarian aid has been a part of Sheba Medical Center’s mission since its founding in 1948.

Photos from Sheba’s deployment to Samoa will be updated throughout the mission at this Dropbox link:

About Sheba Medical Center
Born together with Israel in 1948, Sheba Medical Center, Tel HaShomer is the largest and most comprehensive medical center in the Middle East. Sheba is the only medical center in Israel that combines an acute care hospital and a rehabilitation hospital on one campus, and it is at the forefront of medical treatments, patient care, research and education. As a university teaching hospital affiliated with the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel-Aviv University, it welcomes people from all over the world indiscriminately. In 2019, Newsweek magazine named Sheba one of the top ten hospitals in the world. For more information, visit:

Published December 9, 2019 PR Newswire

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