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FAO, USAID Provide 12,000 COVID-19 Rapid Tests to Lao PDR

The Lao PDR’s continued efforts to detect and mitigate COVID-19 have received a boost from international partners.

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) handed over vital Panbio COVID-19 rapid test kits and AgPath-IDTM One-Step RT-PCR Reagents to the Lao Ministry of Health (MOH) Thursday.

Under the “Emergency assistance to strengthen COVID-19 detection capacity in the Lao PDR” with total historical funding of USD300,000 from USAID, FAO has provided various equipment to the National Centre for Laboratory and Epidemiology of the Department of Communicable Disease Control to support detection capacity including Smart Testing Booths, reagents and supplies for COVID-19 testing.

These rapid test kits are funded by USAID via FAO to enhance the Ministry’s capacity to detect and respond to ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks.

A handover ceremony was attended by Dr. Snong Thongsna, Vice-Minister of Health of the Lao PDR, United States Ambassador to the Lao PDR Peter M. Haymond, and FAO Representative Nasar Hayat.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Snong expressed gratitude for support in tackling an alarming surge of COVID- 19 cases. “Our sincere thanks and gratitude to USAID and FAO and your teams for your value support and commitment to continue support and work closely with Ministry of Health to response COVID-19 pandemic in the Lao PDR.”

“Today’s handover reaffirms our commitment to supporting the Lao PDR in ending the pandemic. We are proud of our partnership with the Government of the Lao PDR and FAO in this important work,” said Ambassador Haymond.

“In addition to addressing the health impact of COVID-19, the United States is supporting the Government to address the impacts on the Lao economy, the education system and rule of law. This year marks the 5th anniversary of the U.S. – Lao Comprehensive Partnership, and we are proud to help Lao PDR build back better and progress beyond COVID-19.”

FAO Representative to the Lao PDR Nasar Hayat said that COVID-19 had severe and adverse impacts not only on human health but also on the food system, food security and nutrition. Impacts on income and livelihood security particularly affected the poor and the most vulnerable in the Lao PDR.

“Only through partnership and collaboration, can we fight this pandemic effectively, save lives and gradually build back better under the new normal context,” he said.

Mr Nasar said FAO stood committed in continuing its provision of technical support to assist the Government to better deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, he said. He also expressed a special thanks for USAID’s contribution to the partnership and for providing support to the Government of the Lao PDR in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project also trained officers in northern, central, southern provinces. Trainees included public and animal health officers and immigration police officers. There, officers are improving surveillance, disease inspection, sample collection, infection prevention, control, and environmental cleaning practices.

Training workshops allowed these government officers to share lessons learned and experiences in the prevention and response to COVID-19.

In addition, calibration and certification services were provided for laboratory biosafety cabinets.

Source: Lao News Agency