New Zealand will contribute $1 million to an international fund to tackle measles in the Pacific, Foreign Minister Winston Peters has announced.

Mr Peters, who was set to return to New Zealand from Samoa today, announced the funding for the joint United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF) and World Health Organisation (WHO) Pacific Regional Action Plan for Measles.

He said vaccination was the most effective way of avoiding illness and a costly health emergency.

"This plan offers immediate preventative action. It allows for the flexibility to respond to additional requests from other Pacific nations and offers an efficient way of working regionally," he said.


Samoa's outbreak has infected more than 5000 people and killed 72 since October, with about 90 percent of deaths among children aged under four.

Mr Peters said the funding would help to identify regions vulnerable to the disease and early interventions to prevent further outbreaks.

Children under five will be targeted for vaccinations, as well as new mothers and their families.