The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Federal Ministry of Health of Germany (BMG) are continuing to support the Lao PDR’s goal to vaccinate 80 percent of the population by donating IT equipment and a refrigerated truck, valued at LAK3.83 billion ($383,794 USD) to the Ministry of Health (MOH), through the World Health Organization (WHO). This equipment will help the Lao PDR to expand the use of information technology to speed up vaccinations and ensure data accuracy throughout Lao PDR.
The handover at MOH was chaired by Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith, Minister of Health; Ms. Joy Michiko Sakurai, tDeputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy to Lao PDR; Mr. Cullen Hughes, Deputy Country Representative for USAID Laos; Ambassador Annette Knobloch, German Ambassador to Lao PDR and Dr. Yu Lee Park, Officer-in-Charge of the WHO Office in Lao PDR.
The donated equipment will enable the Mother and Child Health Center (MCHC) under the Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion and the Department of Planning and Cooperation to implement a new system to schedule, pre-register, and capture individual-level vaccination information and provide QR-enabled vaccination cards at mass vaccination sites and five central hospitals. With greater IT capacity the system will expand further into provincial and district hospitals.
With LAK1.97 billion ($197,633 USD) of funding from USAID, WHO procured 81 laptops and four printers, and will procure additional 81 laptops and 145 tablets and distribute them to provinces early this year. Under the BMG funding valued at LAK1.86 billion ($186,161 USD), WHO also procured 14 laptops, 221 tablets, 176 printers, 176 pocket Wi-Fi devices, and a refrigerated vehicle to transport vaccines from central to regional warehouses. BMG funds will also buy three ambulance vans that will serve as mobile, pop-up stations for distributing vaccines in Vientiane Capital. This is part of MCHC’s effort to improve Lao PDR’s vaccine data management systems and transportation capacity.
This support will enable the Government of Lao PDR to provide quicker, more convenient and efficient vaccination services to the public with more accurate vaccination records. It should also help to reduce overcrowding at vaccination sites and avoid unfortunate stockouts and surpluses at individual sites.
During the event, Minister Bounfeng Phoummalaysith expressed his appreciation to USAID and BMG for their valuable support. “This refrigerated truck and equipment will support the work of the Mother and Child Health Center, the 5 Central Hospitals and the 9 District hospitals in the Vientiane Capital to effectively improve the quality of information, enhance the data entry process, provide timely reporting and faster documentation with an improved paperless system. This handover is part of our effort to utilize technology to alleviate the burden on already-strained health workers and improve vaccine serve delivery,” remarked Dr. Bounfeng.
Ms. Sakurai congratulated the Lao PDR on its successful efforts to ensure the safety of all Lao people and highlighted the expanding U.S. Lao Comprehensive Partnership. “In addition to the vaccine donations, this equipment represents a small portion out of the $13 million that the U.S. Government has already contributed to the Lao PDR’s COVID-19 response effort. Our goal is to help Lao PDR to meet its vaccination targets, prevent severe illness and save lives.” said Ms. Sakurai.
Just a few days before the 64th anniversary of the German-Lao diplomatic relations, Ms Knobloch also welcomed the great achievements of the Lao government in dealing with challenges of Covid-19, “The pandemic can only be overcome if we take action against the virus together.” She added, “Germany and the US are currently the two largest donors of COVAX. We both are committed to finding a multilateral response to the pandemic and to ensuring fair, transparent and affordable access to COVID-19 vaccines, medicines and diagnostics around the globe. I am pleased that the equipment of the German government can contribute to improving Lao PDR’s health facilities in challenging times.”
Dr. Yu Lee Park, Officer-in-Charge of the WHO office in Lao PDR, said, “We are pleased to have this opportunity to support the Ministry of Health to strengthen its COVID-19 vaccination program thanks to the generous support from the Governments of the United States of America and Germany. This support is particularly timely following the recent arrival of COVID-19 vaccines via the COVAX Facility. We congratulate the Government of Lao PDR – in particular, the Ministry of Health – on their steady progress towards protecting all those who are eligible with COVID-19 vaccines.”