Ministry moves to stop what it says are lies on social media after boy’s MRSA death

    Tonga’s Ministry of Health is working to stop “disrespectful and untruthful comments” made on social media about the Ministry and its staffers, Dr Siale ‘Akauʻola, Tonga’s Ministry of Health CEO said today.

    Dr ‘Akauʻola said it was difficult to control the discussion on social media because “negative emotions are high and rational and sensible talking/thinking, very low.”

    The Ministry has been subjected to bitter comments on social media since a 12-year-old boy from Vava’u died on June 30.

    The comments became more intense after Kaniva News reported that the boy, ʻAtunaisa Wilson Mataongo, died because he was infected by the Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA).

    Most commentators rejected the MRSA claim and said it was a cover up.

    Dr ʻAkauʻola said he was deeply concerned by the allegations.

    Some posts by Facebook users who appeared to have supported the family of the boy triggered a series of heated debates on Facebook.

    The posts, which were widely shared on Facebook groups and individual Facebook accounts attacked the Ministry and the health officials in Vava’u..

    Most commenters claimed the boy’s life might have been saved, that there were cases of the same nature before in which the patients died and that people no longer trusted the Ministry of Health.

    Some called on the doctors and the nurses in Vavaʻu who worked on Mataongoʻs case to resign.

    Dr ‘Akau’ola denied the comments and said they infuriated the health workers.

    He said the comments were disrespectful and caused the public to lose faith in the Ministry.

    “A team is working with the ministry to create policies in an attempt to stop this from happening in the future”, Dr ‘Akau’ola said.

    Tongan medication

    Dr ‘Akau’ola said the boy died after he was infected with MRSA.

    He also said the family treated the boy with Tongan medication in the hospital.

    He said there was no law to prohibit the use of Tongan medication.

    However, when it was used inside the hospital it was entirely up to the doctor in charge to consider whether it was wise to use it or not.

    “Tongan medication is useful sometimes and we used to it,” Dr ‘Akau’ola said.

    He said it was sometime prohibited when the medication could cause an infection. This could happen when leaves used were chewed and applied to an injury.

    He said the Ministry did not believe Mataongo died because of the Tongan medication.

    He died because he was infected by MRSA bacteria, he said.

    In our story on Mataongo’s death on July 10, we said that MRSA normally occurred among people who had been hospitalised for treatment.

    However, we also reported that according to the prestigious Mayo Clinic, MRSA infections can occur in the wider community and are spread by skin to skin contact.  People living in crowded conditions are at risk.

    The main points

    • Tonga’s Ministry of Health is working to stop “disrespectful and untruthful comments” made on social media about the Ministry and its staffers, Dr Siale ‘Akauʻola, Tonga’s Ministry of Health CEO said today.
    • Dr ‘Akauʻola said it was difficult to control the discussion on social media because “negative emotions are high and rational and sensible talking/thinking, very low.”
    • The Ministry has been subjected to bitter comments on social media since a 12-year-old boy from Vava’u died on June 30.
    • The comments became more intense after Kaniva News reported that the boy, ʻAtunaisa Wilson Mataongo, died because he was infected by the Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA).

    For more information

    Health authorities concerned after rare MRSA-related pneumonia kills boy (Kaniva News)

    MRSA (Mayo Clinic)

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