VIENTIANE, LAO PDR – U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert R. Redfield, MD, met with Minister of Health Assoc. Prof. Dr. Bounkong Syhavong and other senior health officials to discuss the ongoing, broad cooperation between the United States and Lao PDR in the health sector. U.S. CDC currently works with Lao health authorities on joint programs to combat emerging and re-emerging disease threats, including Avian Influenza and influenza viruses, artemisinin-resistant malaria, and HIV/AIDS.
“Laos and the United States frequently partner together to conduct joint training in the health sector, and to work on disease prevention, surveillance and response, efforts that protect the people of Laos and the United States,” said U.S. Chargé d’Affaires to the Lao PDR Colin Crosby. “In addition, the U.S. also partners with the Lao government and people on a wide range of health–related programs to promote nutrition, water sanitation and hygiene, maternal and child health, support for people living with disabilities, and school feeding; programs which bring direct benefits to families across Laos.”
Dr. Redfield’s visit included tours of Lao laboratories and health offices where the U.S. Government supports training programs for public health professionals. He visited the National Immunization Program, which is the storage and distribution center for all vaccines in Laos to learn how CDC investments have improved overall vaccine delivery, and pandemic preparedness, in Laos. Use of influenza vaccines has long been the foundation for public health programs to prevent seasonal influenza, and a major feature of pandemic response. In addition, Dr. Redfield discussed “One Health” at the National Animal Health Laboratory, a CDC-promoted concept that emphasizes the connections between the health of people along with that of animals and the environment.
The two sides continued discussions related to the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) that were initiated by U.S. Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric D. Hargan during his November 9 visit to Laos. GHSA is a worldwide effort to help build countries’ capacity to help create a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats and elevate global health security as a national and global priority. The United States recently pledged an additional $150 million to support the GHSA.
These high-level visits, and U.S. support for public health in Laos, are important aspects of the Indo-Pacific Strategy, which aims to contribute U.S. expertise, technology, and assistance to strengthen public health capabilities among partners throughout the Indo-Pacific region.