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Laos launches face mask and hand sanitizer production

The Lao PDR faced serious shortages and price fluctuations of medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the country is heavily dependent on imports.
The critical need for supply and quality control of medical products in the market has appeared as one of the main challenges during the pandemic.
To better ensure resilience from COVID-19 and future pandemics, the Government of the Lao PDR (GoL) has the ambition to capture this opportunity to promote high-quality local production capacity of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and improve the quality control of the items available in the market.
To tackle the adverse impacts of the pandemic, the United Nations Development Programme in the Lao PDR (UNDP Lao PDR) has supported GoL to effectively respond to emerging needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this context, UNDP in close cooperation with the Ministry of Health (MOH) initiated the project “CHINA-UNDP Triangular Cooperation Response to COVID-19 in Asia and the Pacific Region” to provide financial and technical support to enhance the domestic production of PPE and quality management system for PPE production, better market access and reduce dependency on imports, with support from the Ministry of Commerce, Government of China.
During the project inception workshop in July 2022 led by the Food and Drug Department (FDD), MoH, and UNDP in the Lao PDR, the stakeholders identified priority activities and agreed on the project work plan for the year 2022. The project also works with the Bureau of Food and Drug Inspection (BFDI), National Centre of Food and Drug Analysis (NCFDA) and State Enterprise for Pharmaceutical Factory No.3 (PDC3) under FDD.
The project will procure face mask and hand sanitizer production lines for PDC3, which is expected to be fully operational by mid-2023. This will include appropriate technical production support and facility construction.
On 24 November 2022, a groundbreaking ceremony at PDC3 was held to predefine and reserve premises for the hand sanitizer and mask production lines, officially witnessed by representatives of stakeholders MOH, Embassy of China and UNDP in the Lao PDR.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, Director General of FDD Dr. Bounxou Keohavong, remarked, “This project, under strong cooperation and solidarity from all stakeholders, will improve the quality of PPEs available in the country”.
Second Secretary, Economic and Commercial Office, Embassy of China in the Lao PDR, Mr. Han Ye has outlined the significant cooperation between the Lao PDR and China, including under this project implemented through UNDP and underlined the importance for MoH to enhance domestically produced PPE products available in the market, as well as improving technical capacity and policies of the regulatory authorities.
Mr. Abduvakkos Abdurahmanov, Head of Natural Resources Management, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Unit, UNDP in the Lao PDR has emphasized that this initiative would become a flagship facility of the country’s medical device production sector and will significantly expand the domestic supply availability and potential exports in the future.
The face mask and hand sanitizer production lines to be installed at the PDC3 will also take into consideration social and environmental standards through appropriate measures to ensure labour conditions are met and environmental impacts are minimized to maximize opportunities and benefits to the factory workers and surrounding communities and to minimize potential negative impacts.

Source: Lao News Agency