VIENTIANE, LAO PDR — U.S. Ambassador Dr. Peter M. Haymond announced additional funding of nearly $2 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in support of the Lao PDR in response to the global spread of the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19. Ambassador Haymond made the announcement as part of his opening remarks for a U.S.-sponsored tabletop exercise to help Lao officials and public health workers prepare for next steps in responding to the worldwide pandemic. Dr. Rattanaxay Phetsouvanh, Director General of Department of Communicable Diseases Control (DCDC), representatives of twelve Lao ministries, as well as leaders of United Nations organizations in Laos, joined the tabletop exercise on March 13, sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USCDC) and the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), in close partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO).
“The United States is supporting the Lao PDR’s efforts to prepare for and prevent the spread of new infectious diseases, including the novel coronavirus,” said Ambassador Haymond. “Today’s training activity, led by our experts from the USCDC, and our new funding of almost $2 million provided through USAID, add to long-term U.S. investments in training and equipping of Lao medical professionals since 2006 to promote healthy communities in Lao PDR.”
USAID will provide this new funding to three implementing partners in Laos – WHO, Save the Children, and UNICEF. Together, this assistance will help Lao PDR prepare its laboratories for large-scale testing for COVID-19; implement a public-health emergency plan for points of entry; train and equip rapid-response teams; investigate cases and trace the contacts of infected persons; and adapt training materials for health workers on COVID-19.
The tabletop exercise and preparedness activity on March 13 in Vientiane was sponsored by USCDC and DTRA, two U.S. Government organizations that have supported Lao health security for many years. Working with partners from WHO, USCDC in this exercise provided technical advice on best practices for slowing the spread of a pandemic and facilitated discussions of command and control and case detection strategies in different pandemic phases.
The United States has continuously partnered with health officials from the Lao Government, to support training for thousands of Lao health workers at the national and sub-national levels since 2006. In early February, USAID provided personal protective equipment to the Ministry of Health as part of the United States’ initial support to the Lao PDR to prepare for any potential spread of the novel coronavirus. This was followed a week later by skills training from USCDC experts on proper techniques for using the new equipment.
Throughout the Lao PDR, the United States works in close partnership with the government and citizens on a range of programs to improve health outcomes in the country. These include long-term efforts to improve nutrition, strengthen maternal and child health, and prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
Source: US Agency for International Development