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UNFPA provides telehealth equipment for continued life saving reproductive health services during COVID-19 in Laos

On Oct 12, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) handed over telehealth equipment to the Ministry of Health (MoH) for the provision of essential Reproductive Maternal Newborn Child Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) service to women and girls.

The package contains mobile phones, thermometers, blood pressure scuff, saturometer, information, education, and communication (IEC) materials.

The material will be distributed to health providers in six provinces, such as Vientiane, Savannakhet, Borikhamxay, Khammuan, Champassak, and Saravan.

Minister of Health Bounfeng Phoummalaysith said “We are facing an emergency and tragedy that happens to pregnant women at the quarantine centres. With UNFPA support, we aim to implement as many services as possible to prevent maternal deaths. The telehealth approach is innovative service delivery. We tried last year in Luang Prabang, during the lockdown, women could consult the midwives through phone calls and get advice. It worked very well so we said: why not apply it with women at isolation facilities.”

UNFPA Country Representative for Lao PDR Mariam A. Khan said, “telehealth will ensure that women and girls receive RMNCAH services even in quarantine and isolation. The medical equipment is crucial for health providers to provide timely and effective services remotely. While there are 26 Covid related deaths in the Lao PDR over two years, from January to October 2021, already 73 maternal deaths have been recorded in the Lao PDR! UNFPA will make every effort to support the government to ensure that women and girls have access to life saving healthcare in a manner that minimises COVID transmission.”

As the provinces have received an influx of returning migrant workers, there is an increased need for RMNCAH services for the female migrant workers at the quarantine and isolation facilities.

In response to such demands, UNFPA provided telehealth training to 42 healthcare providers from those provinces in August. In addition, to further support telehealth implementation, the healthcare providers will receive the medical devices and IEC materials to facilitate their work.

Telehealth was first introduced and piloted in Luang Prabang in 2020.

The pilot saw positive results and has been further expanded to include the six provinces. This innovative approach serves as a new platform for maintaining the essential RMNCAH services during the COVID-19 pandemic, and in remote areas, where access to healthcare remains a challenge.

Through telehealth, health providers connect with women and provide immediate assistance, advice, and referral pathways to ensure pregnant women, mothers, and their babies receive care timely and stay safe.

Source: Lao News Agency