- General

Local Responses to COVID-19 reviewed

On February 2-3, the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Home Affairs, Prime Minister’s Office and officials from Luang Prabang, Champassak, Xayaboury, Luang Namtha and Bokeo, met in Luang Prabang to review local government preparedness and responses to COVID-19 and primary health care beyond the pandemic.

The meeting was chaired by the Vice-Minister of Health Phouthone Meuangpak, Deputy Head, Office of the Prime Minister, Mrs Thipphakone Chanthavongsa, Vice-Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Khammoune Viphongxay, and Deputy Party Secretary – Luang Prabang Province, Mr. Vongsavanh Thepphachanh.

The meeting, organized by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Home Affairs, WHO and UNDP, was a platform for sharing local-level preparedness efforts against COVID-19 and other health threats.

The officials discussed requirements to strengthen roles of local governance and the community on primary health care beyond COVID-19. Further collaborations between the ministries of Health and Home Affairs is agreed upon to enhance local health governance.

Vice-Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Khammoune Viphongxay, stated that “local authorities at all levels are a major force in assisting the population, implementing measures to monitor and control the spread of COVID-19. At the same time, local authorities need to encourage more parents to bring their children to access basic health services on a regular basis, such as routine immunizations, medical treatment or births in hospitals and health centers”.

Participants visiting from the four target provinces had previously hosted their own provincial workshop to assess quarantine centres and review local governance and community preparedness and response efforts against COVID-19. These workshops were funded by the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) and facilitated by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Home Affairs, WHO, and UNDP.

Ms. Ricarda Rieger, UNDP Resident Representative stated “It is encouraging to see how different ministries and departments work together to address the pandemic. It is not only an issue for the Ministry of Health, but the responsibility of each ministry and every citizen to collectively respond to health risks for a safer and healthier community.”

Commencing in June 2020, the joint partner project has supported seven quarantine centers in four provinces with light renovations, office, cleaning, kitchen, and bedding material. A national quarantine centre profile and occupant registry dashboard is under development as well.

Dr. Phouthone Meuangpak, Deputy Minister of Health, closed the workshop and stated that ” we have agreed in this meeting that improving health of the people is the responsibility of everyone, not only the health sector. Next steps should include: continuing to strengthen multi-sectoral collaboration in local governance; identifying clear responsibilities in each sector, for example the management of illegal migrants and quarantine centers; and establishing a sustainable mechanism by integrating into primary health care more broadly; and financing through the regular government development plan while collaborating with development partners.

Dr. Mark Jacobs, WHO’s Representative to the Lao PDR, commented on the MPTF activities in general: While COVID-19 has given us many challenges, it has also given us important opportunities such as the opportunity to build an even stronger health system; the opportunity to demonstrate our solidarity in together protecting and improving the health of the Lao people; and the opportunity to help build stronger resilience in communities to future health threats.

Source: Lao News Agency