Timoteo Fuatogi, 29, (far left) wipes tears with his shirt as a pastor prays over the open grave of his baby brother, 9 month old Mark Itaifafo. Family members of Mark Itaifafo gather at Vailele Cemetery for the childâs funeral service. The family, who are street vendors, had taken the child to two different traditional healers after he contracted measles from his twin brother. He later died in a hospital.
As of December 16th 2019, there have been 5,200 confirmed cases of measles and 73 deaths in Samoa - out of a population of just over 200,000 people. A measles outbreak beginning in October has impacted the small island nation, which before the outbreak had a vaccination rate of only between 28-40% according to the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef). Responding to the outbreak, the Samoan government has issued a state of emergency and enacted a mobile vaccination program which has now reportedly vaccinated over 90% of the population.
Vailele Cemetery, Samoa. 11th December 2019. Matthew Abbott for The New York Times.