WASHINGTON, 4 May, 2010-The World Bank today approved an additional US$3 million in financing for the Samoa Health Sector Management Program (HSMP) Support Project.

The funds will assist the Government of Samoa in rebuilding the health sector following last year's tsunami and increase access to quality health services for Samoans.

Samoa's health sector was hit hard by the tsunami last September with the total recovery bill estimated at US$7.4 million. The additional financing will ensure that access to basic health services is maintained for Samoans during the restoration process. The priority is on enhancing communicable disease control efforts, delivering specialist health services to relocated populations, and disaster risk mitigation measures for the future.

"The World Bank and the Government of Samoa are committed to advancing health care services for the people of Samoa and reducing the affects of future natural disasters on the health sector," says Ferid Belhaj, Country Director for Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea & Pacific Islands at the World Bank. "Outbreaks of dengue, measles, and endemic typhoid over recent years highlight the need for continued support in core public health programs. Health promotion and prevention are at the centre of reform efforts in Samoa."

Maternal and child health is a priority of the HSMP, in line with the Millennium Development Goals. According to the World Health Organization, the under-five mortality rate in Samoa is 28 per 1,000 births compared with Australia which is six per 1,000 births. The project is investing in maternal and child health care services and focusing on health promotion with new mothers.

Launched in July 2008, HSMP is currently financed by an International Development Association (IDA) zero-interest loan of US$3 million and grants from the governments of Australia (US$12.6 million) and New Zealand (US$4 million). The additional financing will take IDA's contribution to US$6 million. The project is building the skills of health care workers and providing staff training on disease management to assist in developing a better quality health sector. The project will also create a Bachelor of Health Science degree at the National University of Samoa to educate the next generation of doctors and nurses in the country.