Vientiane, 7 June 2023 – Today, the United States through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) officially handed over cold chain and IT equipment to the Ministry of Health of Lao PDR, further marking the expanding cooperation between the two countries on COVID-19 vaccination and public health.
Despite declining cases in Lao PDR, COVID-19 remains a threat to public health, livelihoods, and the socio-economic development of the country. The threat of the virus’s possible resurgence also calls for the strengthening of Lao PDR’s capacity to store and roll out vaccines effectively to its population.
“It is important for Lao PDR to remain vigilant and strengthen our ability to effectively respond to COVID-19 and future health demands,“ cautioned Dr. Bandith Soumphonpackdy, Director of the Maternal Child Health Center, Ministry of Health. “The Government of Lao PDR highly values the support from the United States. We also would like to thank USAID and UNICEF for their continued support around vaccination in Lao PDR throughout the years.”
The cold chain equipment provided by USAID included 150 refrigerators and 50 freezers, which will be distributed to health centers and vaccine storage throughout the country. This equipment will expand Lao PDR’s vaccine storage capacity and enable COVID-19 and other vaccines to be stored safely at the optimum temperature. In addition, USAID provided 400 tablets and 70 laptops to the Ministry of Health, which will enable health workers to collect and report on vaccination data and other health programmes, and access e-learning modules. The donation from USAID values at USD 400,000, procured through UNICEF.
During the handover, Dr. Kevin Smith, Deputy Country Representative to Lao PDR, USAID, highlighted the expanding comprehensive partnership between Lao PDR and the United States. “USAID is proud of our partnership with the Government of Lao PDR and today’s handover exemplifies the strength of that partnership. It is our hope that the equipment will play a vital role in increasing vaccine storage capacity, strengthening the cold chain system, and improving data entry and monitoring..” Dr. Smith further added, “Having vaccines available at the provincial, district and health center levels ensures that we can reach the most vulnerable populations and those living in the hardest-to-reach areas.”