VIENTIANE, LAO PDR — A ceremony was held on June 18, 2021 for 8 graduates of the Field Epidemiology Training (FET) program, a world-class training supported by the Ministry of Health, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization, in preparation to continue to help Laos fight Covid-19 and other communicable diseases. The ceremony was attended by U.S. Ambassador Dr. Peter M. Haymond and other U.S. officials, and chaired by H.E Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith, Minister of Health.
“The FET program has played an important role in developing infectious disease surveillance and response capacity in Lao PDR. The applied nature of the training has equipped graduates with practical skills to conduct outbreak investigations required in their daily work” said Ambassador Haymond. “Congratulations to the Lao epidemiologists and health professionals on their graduation! This year, the United States and Lao PDR celebrate the 5th anniversary of the U.S.-Lao Comprehensive Partnership. The United States is proud to continue to support you and the Ministry of Health in protecting the people of Laos from infectious diseases, including COVID-19.”
Ministry of Health of Lao PDR, Department of Communicable Disease Control (DCDC) and National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology (NCLE), have managed the year-long FET program each year since its introduction in 2009. To date, they have successfully trained 94 field epidemiologists in Laos, and their work covers all 18 provinces in the country. The FET program works to train Lao health officials to lead surveillance, investigate cases, trace contacts and collect samples of infection diseases; strengthening the Emergency Operation Center capabilities in Laos.
This ceremony highlights the United States’ sustained efforts to support the Lao PDR as it confronts the challenges of COVID-19, and the enduring commitment of the U. S. Department of Defense to build long-term capacity-building partnership here in public health. In the past year alone, the Department of Defense has worked with the Ministry of Health and the Military Medical Department, Ministry of National Defense to help address the health needs of the Lao people by contributing over $2.4M USD in areas such as health facilities, field ambulances, laboratory equipment and supplies, COVID-19 test kits, and personal protective equipment. Today’s handover is part of over $8 million in direct COVID-related assistance that the U.S. government has provided to the Lao PDR since the beginning of the outbreak.