23 Oct 2009

NZ medical help to Samoa winding down

10:35 pm on 23 October 2009

New Zealand medical assistance to Samoa following a recent devastating tsunami is winding down.

An 8.0 magnitude quake triggered devastating waves in the Pacific on 30 September, killing at least 184 people in Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga.

Health Minister Tony Ryall says care of patients affected by the tsunami is now largely being handled by Samoan health services and aid agencies.

At the peak of its response to the disaster, New Zealand had more than 30 health professionals in Samoa providing wound care, infection control and counselling.

A handful of New Zealand staff will remain in Samoa until next week.

But Mr Ryall says New Zealand will provide further support with respiratory physicians to help patients who breathed in sea water, microbiologists for water sample-testing and grief counsellors.