Supporting The Public Sector of Samoa
Public spending on education was 5.8 per cent of GDP in 2008. There are eight years of compulsory education starting at the age of five. Primary school comprises six years and secondary seven. Some 77 per cent of pupils complete primary school and literacy among people aged 15–24 is 99 per cent (2010).
The government began the process of introducing free education to its citizens in 2009. As well as state schools, there are several faith schools and a limited number of private primary and secondary schools, including the Robert Louis Stevenson School in Apia.
The principal tertiary institution within the country is the National University of Samoa, which was established in Apia in 1984. Samoa was one of the founders of the regional University of the South Pacific, which has its main campus in Suva, Fiji; Samoa’s regional campus – the Alafua Campus – is located in Apia. The Alafua Campus was established as the university’s agricultural campus in 1977.
Public spending on health was five per cent of GDP in 2010. Patterns of illness and death are shifting to those of a developed country, with longer life expectancy and a rising incidence of lifestyle diseases. Infant mortality was 16 per 1,000 live births in 2011 (134 in 1960).
Health provision includes the national hospital in Apia, four district hospitals and many health centres. Samoan tertiary care is limited and mainly provided by arrangement with New Zealand’s health care system. The majority of medical training is undertaken at the Fiji School of Medicine. The private health care sector has expanded in recent years, but is mostly confined to the capital Apia and consists of small hospitals and clinics with a limited range of medical services. Samoa imports almost all of its pharmaceutical requirements.
The country has no independent drug regulatory authority. Global pharmaceutical organisations have interests in the anti-HIV drug Prostialin, which originated from the Samoan rainforest – and some have, in turn, donated revenues to the local people.
There are 2,337 km of roads, many being rural-access roads, 14 per cent of which are paved. Apia on Upolu is the international port, from which ferry services run frequently to Savai’i, and weekly to Pago Pago in American Samoa. Domestic ferries are operated by the state-owned Samoa Shipping Corporation.
Airports: The international airport at Faleolo, 34 km west of Apia, can take Boeing 747s, but Samoa, like other Pacific Island countries, is remote from world centres and too small for commercial airlines to run frequent flights. National airline Virgin Samoa specialises in long haul international flights. The other national carrier is the government-owned Polynesian Airlines, which previously flew internationally to various countries in the Pacific; however, since the establishment of Virgin Samoa the company mainly flies short haul to neighbouring islands.