The deadly measles outbreak in Samoa hits close to home for Verona Sagato, who co-owns the Sagato Bakery and Cafe in Midvale.
Her parents are from the small Pacific island, and she has plenty of family members who still live there. She said a distant relative — a baby boy — has died as part of the outbreak.
The baby is one of more than 60 killed by the infectious disease over the past two months. Approximately 3,900 measles cases have been reported in the country of just over 200,000, and the government shut down schools after declaring the outbreak a national emergency earlier this month, The Associated Press reports. The government recently decided to shut down all public services for two days to help fight it.
Sagato said she wanted to do something to help.
“We know that growing up here in America, we have the luxury of doctors and hospitals and all the vaccines and care that we need, and Samoa, being a Third World country, a lot of things don’t happen the way they’re supposed to happen," Sagato said.
Many people weren’t vaccinated against measles, she said. Now, children are dying and many are suffering. Sagato said her inclination was to jump in right away to help, but she waited for an opportunity to be most effective.
Now she’s found it. Sagato has partnered with the nonprofit Brown Girl Woke to donate medical supplies to those in need.
The group is collecting:
• Hand sanitizer
• Antibacterial soap
• Medical face masks
• Medical tape
• Cannulas and cannula dressings
• Vitamin A (injectable and oral)
• Butterfly needles with tubing
• Any pediatric resuscitation equipment and pediatric splints
Sagato said people who live in the U.S. and who grew up with access to medical care may not understand the severity of what is happening in Samoa — and how much people there need these medical supplies.
“Knowing what they don’t have, knowing that they don’t have the same resources as we have, it makes us feel better that we can do something to help out a little bit,” Sagato said.
Donations can be dropped off at Sagato Bakery and Cafe, 44 W. 7200 South in Midvale, until Dec. 9.
For those living in or near Cedar Hills, Pauline Fonua, 10145 N. Maple Court, has also partnered with the nonprofit and is accepting donations.