Skip to Main Navigation
PRESS RELEASE December 9, 2019

World Bank commits support to fight Samoa measles outbreak

US$3.5 million to support measles emergency response,
with further $9.3m program to address key health system challenges

SYDNEY, December 9, 2019 The World Bank will provide US$3.5 million in funding to support the response to the growing measles outbreak in Samoa, on top of a US$9.3 million grant that will support health systems strengthening in Samoa over the next five years.

With the measles outbreak in Samoa having now killed 70 people – almost all of them children – and more than 4,600 confirmed measles cases, the Samoan Government will draw US$3.5 million from grant funds available under an agreed  Operation that gives the government access to emergency funding in the event of a significant national emergency. This funding will provide the government with additional resources to respond to the measles emergency.

In addition, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved a further US$9.3 million to strengthen Samoa’s health systems over the coming years through the Samoa Health System Strengthening Program, which will be rolled out between 2020 and 2025.

This additional support aims to improve the quality and efficiency of Samoa’s health system, including the ability to prevent outbreaks of communicable diseases such as measles, and stem the rise of non-communicable diseases like diabetes. Work to be delivered through the program includes primary health care reform, investment in health workforce development, and community-based disease prevention and management to help ensure Samoan families, particularly those in rural areas, have access to trained physicians and quality services.

“Protecting the health and prosperity of our people is essential to the future of Samoa,” said Dr. Take Naseri, Director General Ministry for Health, Samoa. “This measles outbreak has dramatically and tragically demonstrated the importance of sustained health promotion and risk reduction. We are pleased to be working with the World Bank to strengthen Samoa’s health services and improve the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.”

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of life from the devastating measles outbreak which has affected so many children,” said Annette Dixon, World Bank Vice-President for Human Development. “Our thoughts are with the families who have lost beloved ones and are caring for those who are ill. During this time of crisis, we support the people of Samoa and the government to fight the outbreak.

“Our funding will also support the government in strengthening the country’s health system to ensure better preparedness and basic health services for all Samoans.”

The $3.5m for the measles outbreak response is being made available through a Development Policy Operation with a Catastrophe-Deferred Drawdown Option, agreed in 2018, that ensures emergency funding can be mobilised through the World Bank in the event of a major national emergency.

As the World Bank’s first Program-for-Results project in the Pacific, the Samoa Health System Strengthening Program will support the Samoan government’s National Non-Communicable Disease Policy and Action Plan, including expansion of community-based disease screening and management, population-based  health promotion programs and support for  taxation  on unhealthy foods. The release of funds will be linked with achievement of project results.

The US$9.3 million grant comes from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the most in-need countries and will be implemented by Samoa’s Ministry of Health.


Sydney:                             Tom Perry, +61 404 460 330,

Washington D.C.:             Nicholas Keyes, +1 202 473 9135,