15 November 2022, Vientiane, Lao PDR: In Vientiane today, U.S. Ambassador to Lao PDR H.E. Dr. Peter M. Haymond and WHO Officer-in-Charge Dr. Yu Lee Park handed over more than US$2 million of medical equipment and supplies to H.E. Dr. Phayvanh Keopaseuth, Vice Minister for Health. The commodities, including protective and medical equipment, medication, test kits, oxygen supplies, laptops, and tablets, are part of the ongoing support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through WHO, in the fight to end the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for future health crises.
Acknowledging the assistance and strong partnership between the United States and Lao PDR, Dr. Keopaseuth said: “As we move forward together, recovering from the pandemic and returning to regular life, we must remain safe, and vigilant against the cases that remain in the community, particularly with events like the National Games and the return of tourism – these supplies will help us do just that by safeguarding community and healthcare worker health.”
Dr. Keopaseuth continued, “we thank both USAID and WHO for their ongoing support, and broader assistance for COVID-19 vaccination and strengthening health protection across the country.”
Funded by USAID and WHO, the supplies include 600,000 medical masks, 500,000 pairs of gloves, 250,000 surgical gowns, 289,000 COVID-19 rapid tests, 206 million liters of life-saving medical oxygen and 70 oxygen delivery machines for hospitals, 24,000 face shields, 50 laptops and tablets for enhanced disease surveillance, as well as a range of other equipment and medication.
The materials will be dispatched nationwide to hospitals and health centers, with additional supplies delivered later in the year.
”Today’s donation is part of the United States’ ongoing support to assist the Lao Government in improving its national surveillance, response, and risk reduction efforts to combat COVID-19, “ said Ambassador Haymond. ‘’The United States remains committed to supporting Lao PDR and other partner countries to end the global pandemic and rebuild the economy.”
While COVID-19 case numbers in Lao PDR are currently low, they are still being detected in almost all provinces, indicating community transmission is ongoing. New variants continue to be detected and the elderly and those with underlying conditions remain particularly vulnerable.
“The prospect of a return to normal life is exciting for Lao PDR, but we must manage it wisely and safely,” said Dr. Park. “We must ensure the health system is ready if another surge in cases occurs, we must be ready to continue addressing severe cases, and we must keep pushing on increasing vaccination coverage, particularly for elderly and other vulnerable populations.”
“This support will help address the COVID-19 risks that remain, as well those from other diseases, and play an important part in strengthening the nation’s health system longer-term with equipment and technology. We are extremely grateful for this ongoing assistance.”
This equipment is part of ongoing collaboration between the U.S. Government and WHO supporting health in Lao PDR, including tackling COVID-19 and recovery efforts, COVID-19 and routine vaccination support, strengthening health laboratories and disease surveillance, monitoring disease outbreaks, addressing health emergencies, and strengthening Lao PDR’s health systems.