- LuxDev's Regional office
- Vientiane Regional Office
- Partner execution agency
- Lao Ministry of Health
- PIC 3
- 2011 - 2015
- Implementation period
- 22 January 2014 - 31 December 2022
- Total duration
- 107 months
- Total budget
- 39,356,147 EUR
- Contribution breakdown
- Luxembourg Government
- Government of Laos
The story of Dr Thialor
In Lao PDR, thanks to the short and long-term scholarships offered by the Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme (LAO/027), more health professionals from the district level have access to further education enabling them to strengthen their knowledge and clinical skills. This is the story of Dr. Thialor, a young family doctor, who passionately strives to ensure that women and children living in rural and remote areas of the country have access to quality healthcare services.
Technical and Guidance Notes
LAOS - GUIDELINES FOR MAINSTREAMING GENDER IN ICP V
LAOS - GUIDELINES FOR MAINSTREAMING HUMAN AND FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS IN ICP V
LAOS - GUIDELINES FOR MAINSTREAMING ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE IN ICP V
LAOS - GUIDELINES FOR MAINSTREAMING DIGITAL FOR DEVELOPMENT IN ICP V
LAOS - GUIDELINES FOR MAINSTREAMING CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT IN ICP V
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has been providing support to the health sector since the Cooperation between Lao PDR and Luxembourg started in the late 1997.
The preceding phase’s (LAO/017) specific objective was to assist the Lao Ministry of Health in implementing and operationalizing its long-term Health Sector Strategy 2000-2020, Primary Health Care Strategy and Health Sector Development Plans, emphasizing its eight Priority Programmes, with a view to implement quality health services for reaching a larger share of the population, especially the poorest, those at risk, and living in more remote areas. This includes ethnic minority peoples.
LAO/027 will stay in that continuity, with a similar general objective, and a specific objective that aims at supporting the implementation of the updated sector policy (Health Sector Reform Framework 2013-2025) with a specific focus on Mother and Child Health, by fostering district health systems and actors.
The Project will have a steady geographical focus on the three provinces of Vientiane, Bolikhamxay and Khammouane. It will concentrate on fostering the Provincial Health Department roles and responsibilities, towards facilitation of effective Primary Health Care service delivery at district level and Mother and Child Health activities.
Special attention will be given to the development of a patient-centred health care approach, and to the priority target groups such as pregnant women and children under five-years.
In a nutshell, the Project is to support the Ministry of Health in implementing the Health Sector Reform framework 2013-2025, prioritizing access to quality Mother and Child Health services through the strengthening of health districts in the three central provinces.
The Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme II is fully aligned with the Government of Laos’ recent policy and strategy developments. It has been designed to support the further development and implementation of the health sector reform by the Ministry of Health as adopted by the National Assembly. As such, support will be provided:
- in accordance to the principles included in the three-builds decentralization model (greater autonomy and responsibilities given to the provinces);
- in line with the sub-sector strategies and the Primary Health Care / district approach adopted by the Ministry of Health; and
- in complement to the other development initiatives supported by the Ministry of Health and its Development Partners.
Luxembourg provides an additional 1.2 million EUR (14.6 billion LAK) to support the COVID-19 response in Lao PDR
The Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg continues to support its partner country, Laos, to address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the recent upsurge in COVID-19 cases, Luxembourg’s Development Cooperation has committed an additional 1.2 million EUR (14.6 billion LAK) to detect, mitigate and prevent the spread of the virus. This additional financial support raises the Government of Luxembourg’s total contribution for the successful implementation of the COVID-19 preparedness and response plan in Laos to 5.2 million EUR (63.3 billion LAK).
Mr. Sam Schreiner, Chargé d’affaires at the Embassy of Luxembourg in Laos, handed over a symbolic cheque of 1.2 million EUR (14.6 billion LAK) to Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith, Minister of Health, during an official handover ceremony at the Ministry of Health in Vientiane capital. © LuxDev
An official handover ceremony was held on December 10, 2021, at the Ministry of Health in Vientiane capital. The ceremony was attended by H.E. Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith, Minister of Health, senior members of the Ministry of Health, representatives of the Bolikhamxay, Vientiane and Khammouane provincial health departments as well as representatives of the Ministry of Planning and Investment (Department of International Cooperation), and representatives of the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Europe-America Department). The ceremony was attended by H.E. Mr. Sam Schreiner, Chargé d’affaires at the Embassy of Luxembourg in Laos, Mr. Quentin Bourdeaux, Resident Representative of LuxDev, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency, representatives of the LAO/027 health sector support programme, as well as representatives of the Pasteur Institute in Laos (IPL), the World Food Program (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI).
In coordination with the Ministry of Health, Luxembourg’s Development Cooperation provides this additional funding to the World Food Program (WFP), the Pasteur Institute in Laos (IPL), and the Lao-Luxembourg Heath Sector Support Programme Phase II (LAO/027). Through this latest funding assistance, Luxembourg’s support is expected:
- to guarantee the supply of food and essential items to returning Lao migrant workers placed in quarantine centers via the WFP (481,000 EUR, equivalent to 5.9 billion LAK);
- to contribute to the increase of the diagnostic capacities of COVID-19 cases via the IPL (350,000 EUR, equivalent to 4.2 billion LAK);
- to provide support to the COVID-19 response at the national and provincial levels through the LAO/027 health programme (369,000 EUR, equivalent to 4.5 billion LAK).
Luxembourg’s Development Cooperation is supporting the Ministry of Health and the three central provinces of Bolikhamxay, Vientiane, and Khammouane with equipment and training, and by facilitating the supply of essential goods such as personal protective equipment (PPE), viral transport media (VTM) and infection and prevention control (IPC) and decontamination supplies, which are currently in high demand. The LAO/027 programme is also supporting the Pasteur Institute in Laos and the National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology with laboratory equipment, reagents, and consumables to meet the testing needs.
As the pandemic is exacerbating the inequalities and hardships faced by already vulnerable groups, particularly women and girls, the LAO/027 programme continues to work alongside national and provincial healthcare providers to ensure the delivery of essential primary healthcare services, including quality Mother, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) services.
The Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme Phase II (LAO/027) is co-financed by the Government of Lao PDR and the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg and is implemented by the Lao Ministry of Health and LuxDev, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency.
LAOS - Distribution of hospitality bags to returning migrant workers
Between July and August 2021, the Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme Phase II (LAO/027) has been providing essential personal care items to more than 1,000 Laotian migrant workers, returning to their hometowns. As neighbouring countries are facing an important wave of COVID-19 outbreak since April, caused by the highly contagious Delta variant, Laos has suddenly seen thousands of its migrant workers - mostly young adults, some with small children – returning home, putting a strain on quarantine facilities as well as on the overall health care system.
The surges in case numbers have prompted travel bans and extension of nationwide lockdown measures. International travel in South-East Asia remains essentially closed, but Lao migrant workers and nationals are allowed to return home through international border checkpoints; however, after crossing the border, they must undergo a 14-days quarantine in temporary accommodation centres set up by the provincial authorities (International Organization for Migration, Situation report, August 2021).
LAO/027 programme staff preparing hospitality bags in Vientiane capital (July 2021)
The COVID-19 mobility restrictions have compounded the vulnerability of some migrants and their challenges of returning home. To ensure a safe and dignified return home and to support the individuals currently in quarantine centres, the LAO/027 programme staff has prepared and dispatched some 1,000 hospitality bags (worth EUR 16,000) to the health authorities in the three central provinces of Vientiane (200 bags), Bolikhamxay (300 bags), and Khammouane (500 bags).
Truck sent to Khammouane province (August 2021)
The hospitality bags are being handed over to people entering the provincial quarantine facilities and each bag contains basic hygiene supplies such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, towels, washing powder, toilet paper, waste plastic bags, reusable meal sets, dishwashing liquid and sponge, mosquito net, thin blankets, surgical masks, and hand sanitizers.
Distribution of hospitality bags at the Phonehong quarantine facility (August 2021)
Labour migration is an important livelihood option for the Lao rural workforce and the most common destination country for Lao migrant workers is Thailand. Since the beginning of the pandemic, however, around 246,000 Lao workers have gradually returned home (Vientiane Times, July 2021). This phenomenon did not only affect Laos, as, indeed, the widespread impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global human mobility due to travel restrictions, border closures and lockdown measures to curb the spread of the virus, has left millions of migrants stranded across the world (International Labour Organisation, Quarterly Briefing Note, 2021).
Continuing to support the returning migrant workers and their families, often with very young children, but also pregnant women, older persons, students, and those seeking medical attention, is crucial. So far, 60% of the LAO/027 supported hospitality bags, were distributed to women.
Distribution of hospitality bags at a COVID-19 treatment facility in Khammouane province (August 2021)
Distribution of hospitality bags in Vientiane province (August 2021)
The Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg is deeply involved in supporting its partner country, Laos, in its efforts to avoid the spread of the virus and to protect the most vulnerable population groups from the disease. Through the LAO/027 health programme, Luxembourg is continuing to provide support to the Lao health authorities to implement measures where a gap in capacity and resources have been identified at national and subnational levels.
Earlier in June 2021, Luxembourg has committed an additional EUR 1,000,000 (equivalent to LAK 11.5 billion) to detect, mitigate and prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Laos. The LAO/027 health programme is currently supporting 6 of the 10 pillars of the National COVID-19 Preparedness Response Plan 2020. Through this latest funding assistance, Luxembourg’s support is expected to:
- strengthen case management and detection, monitoring and surveillance capacities;
- maintain and support temporary provincial isolation and treatment centres;
- support infection prevention and control (IPC) mechanisms and surge capacities;
- enhance operational support and logistics;
- acquire staff support, IPC consumables and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme Phase II (LAO/027) is co-financed by the Government of Lao PDR and the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg and is implemented by the Lao Ministry of Health and LuxDev, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency.
LAOS - Capacity development for ophthalmic nursing in Lao PDR
According to the data published by the World Health Organization in the “Global strategy on human resources for health: Workforce 2030”, there is a global shortage of health workers, mostly in low-and lower-middle-income countries, with nurses and midwives representing over 50% of the current shortage in health workers. This shortage of health workers equally affects the eye care sector, showing an important unmet demand for ophthalmic nurses and doctors. As the population worldwide is aging, chronic eye diseases such as cataract and glaucoma are becoming the leading causes of blindness and visual impairment amongst elderly men and women.
In Laos, despite the increasing number of trained eye care practitioners over the last years, it was observed that eye care services were less attended in 2020 and 2021, in parallel with the general reduction in hospital consultations, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has severely affected the provision of eye care services by mobile teams in remote districts, thereby increasing the risk of permanent vision loss due to the postponement of essential eye care.
The Director of the National Ophthalmology Center (NOC), Dr Khamkhoun Hosavanh, handed over a certificate to an ophthalmic nurse during the ophthalmology nursing graduation ceremony at the NOC in Vientiane capital (June 2021). © LuxDev
The Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme Phase II (LAO/027) has established a long-standing collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the University of Health Sciences to identify and support human resource development needs in the health sector.
In particular, the LAO/027 programme is collaborating with the National Ophthalmology Center in Vientiane capital and with The Fred Hollows Foundation (FHF) to develop the ophthalmology care capacity in the three provinces of Vientiane, Bolikhamxay and Khammouane. Since 2018, under a service agreement with the FHF, the LAO/027 programme is supporting the provision of upgrading and clinical specialization programmes for eye care and is offering various short- and long-term scholarships to provide additional training to eye nurses and specialist doctors.
Investing in people
The delivery of quality ophthalmic care directly depends on adequate training of specialized staff. To meet the training needs for eye care nursing in Laos, a short-term training programme was specifically designed for qualified nurses to strengthen the provision of healthcare and the management of people with ophthalmic diseases.
On 22 June 2021, thirteen ophthalmology nurses have successfully completed a four-months training programme as ophthalmic nurses at the National Ophthalmology Center in the Vientiane capital, with ten graduates from the provincial and district hospitals of Khammouane (2), Bolikhamxay (4) and Vientiane (4) provinces supported by the LAO/027 programme.
This brings the total number of scholarships offered by Luxembourg to upgrade the qualifications and capacities of ophthalmology nurses to thirty-one (21 female and 10 male ophthalmic nurses) between 2018 and 2021.
Ophthalmic nursing graduation ceremony at the National Ophthalmology Center (June 2021). © LuxDev
This training programme covers every aspect of ophthalmic nursing, including the physiology of the eye, diseases that affect the eye, clinical management, and the complexities of managing people with a variety of eye disorders. After the training programme, the ophthalmology nurses are posted in provincial and district hospitals to provide basic eye care services and to raise awareness among their communities on avoidable blindness through community outreach activities.
Besides the short-term Ophthalmic nursing programme, the LAO/027 programme is supporting the following eye care focused courses, in collaboration with the FHF:
- Blindness course for ophthalmologists (one-week workshop for trained ophthalmologists);
- Basic Eye Doctor (BED) training (one-year training programme for general practitioners and newly graduated medical doctors);
- Ophthalmologist Specialist Residency (three-years specialization programme to train Basic Eye Doctors to become Ophthalmologists; 1 year in Thailand, 2 years in Laos)
Investing in equipment and technology
While investing in training capacity is one of the key components to building a stronger health workforce and strengthening the health system, the LAO/027 programme is also supporting the creation of an enabling environment for ophthalmology services in the health facilities in the three provinces of Vientiane, Bolikhamxay, and Khammouane.
Cataract surgery at the Bolikhamxay provincial hospital in July 2020. © LuxDev
To reinforce the scope and the quality of curative ophthalmological services at the provincial level, the LAO/027 programme has renovated the old ophthalmology unit of the Bolikhamxay provincial hospital and has provided additional eye care equipment for eye surgeries.
The ophthalmology surgical department established at the Bolikhamxay provincial hospital opened its doors last year in July 2020 and is staffed by a qualified ophthalmologist team trained in Thailand and at the University of Health Sciences in Vientiane capital. The Bolikhamxay provincial hospital provides care and treatment services, including services for eye-related diseases such as cataract and glaucoma.
The Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme Phase II (LAO/027) is co-financed by the Government of Lao PDR and the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg and is implemented by the Lao Ministry of Health and LuxDev, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency.
LAOS - Luxembourg provides an additional 1 million EUR to support COVID-19 response in Lao PDR
The Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg continues to work alongside its partner country, Laos, to strengthen the national capacities to detect, assess and respond to acute public health events. In response to the recent upsurge in COVID-19 cases, Luxembourg, through the Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme Phase II (LAO/027), has committed an additional 1,000,000 EUR (equivalent to 11.5 billion LAK) to detect, mitigate and prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
An official handover ceremony was held on 10th June 2021, at the Ministry of Health in Vientiane in the presence of Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith, Minister of Health, senior members from the Ministry of Health, the National Centre of Laboratory and Epidemiology, the Institut Pasteur du Laos, representatives from the Embassy of Luxembourg in Laos, and representatives from the LAO/027 health programme.
Mr. Sam Schreiner, Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of Luxembourg in Laos and Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith, Minister of Health, during an official handover ceremony at the Ministry of Health in Vientiane capital. (June, 2021)
Mr. Sam Schreiner, Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of Luxembourg, congratulated the Government and the people of Laos for the, so far, successful handling of the ongoing crisis and stated that a strong COVID-19 response should include, besides a rapid vaccination drive, a comprehensive surveillance and testing strategy. In this regard, support to strengthen laboratory capacity is essential for the rapid detection of positive cases and the roll out of a timely response to contain the spread. Mr. Schreiner furthermore stressed the “absolute need for close donor coordination with the Government of Laos in the ongoing fight against COVID-19 in order to avoid any unfortunate duplication of efforts or gaps and to husband the all too rare resources”.
In coordination with the Ministry of Health, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation will provide this additional funding to the National Centre of Laboratory and Epidemiology (NCLE) and the Institut Pasteur du Laos (IPL), the two official laboratories for sample screening. The additional funds will, amongst others, be used to support the procurement of laboratory equipment, reagents, and swabs to meet the high demand for testing.
Furthermore, the LAO/027 health programme is continuing to support the Ministry of Health and the three Luxembourg supported provinces of Bolikhamxay, Khammouane and Vientiane, through the acquisition of medical devices, personal protective equipment (PPE) and consumables which are currently in high demand.
Through this latest funding assistance, Luxembourg’s support is expected to:
- strengthen case management, detection, monitoring and surveillance capacities;
- maintain and support temporary provincial isolation and treatment facilities;
- support infection prevention and control (IPC) mechanisms and surge capacities;
- enhance operational support and logistics; and
- provide technical support, IPC consumables and personal protective equipment (PPE) support.
This support is part of the Team Europe joint response and is in addition to the 3,000,000 EUR (34.5 billion LAK), which were transferred in 2020 by the Government of Luxembourg to support the Government of Lao PDR’s COVID-19 preparedness and response.
LAOS - Neurology remote training for health professionals in Lao PDRTraining offered under the Thailand – Luxembourg – Laos Trilateral Cooperation
The Lao – Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme Phase II (LAO/027) launched its first remote training under the LuxNet platform in Laos. The Neurology for non-neurologists training was held between 17 and 21 May 2021 and was presented by clinicians and neurology specialists from the Neurological Institute of Thailand (NIT). 26 health professionals from the three Luxembourg supported provinces of Bolikhamxay, Vientiane and Khammouane attended the five-days intensive remote training via Zoom.
Remote neurology training provided by the Neurological Institute of Thailand (May 2021).
The objective of the training was to increase the knowledge, understanding and skills of health personnel who are involved in providing care to patients in this area of specialisation. Providing neurology training in Laos is crucial taking into consideration that disease profiles, health-seeking behavior and clinical requirements are changing in the country. Indeed, hospitals are expected to see a substantial increase in lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and stroke.
The online training offered by the NIT consisted of 35 different lectures targeted to physicians and practicticing registered nurses. The five-days intensive online education (6-7 hrs/day) consisted of live webinars and group discussions. During the lectures, the participants had the opportunity to learn about neurological assessment, anatomy and physiology, and the clinical aspects and treatment of such disorders including trauma brain injury, stroke, and seizures. The topics covered included for instance: seizure management in pregnancy and other special situations, common pediatric neurological diseases, nursing management for epilepsy and stroke patients.
The LuxNet training platform
Conventional face-to-face training is challenged due to travel restrictions and current social distancing measures; in response, the LAO/027 programme has accelerated the introduction of remote teaching and training mechanisms in the health sector in Laos.
The remote neurology training is part of the broader LuxNet training platform established by the LAO/027 health programme to strengthen human resource capital development. Improving the skills of health workforce, forecasting the workforce needs in the short and medium term, and ensuring that the most appropriate skill-mix is available in the hospitals, are some of the key focus areas of the LAO/027 programme. The remote trainings are designed:
- to provide continuous, routine, short-term training to health service providers;
- to encourage peer learning under national and international experts' mentorship;
- to establish an on-site remote training environment at provincial and district hospital levels.
The LAO/027 programme is supporting key stakeholders for effective use of the LuxNet platform. The provincial hospitals in the three Luxembourg supported provinces of Bolikhamxay, Khammouane, and Vientiane, have already received a LuxNet installation. The installation of LuxNet is currently being rolled out to the Ministry of Health, the National Health Insurance Bureau, the provincial and district health offices, and to 28 preselected district hospitals.
Trilateral Cooperation between Thailand, Luxembourg, and Laos
The LuxNet initiative aims to improve communication between a network of stakeholders from academia, teaching and technical partners providing remote teaching and training. The University of Health Sciences (UHS) has been linked to the LuxNet platform as the active participation of national training institutions is critical. The UHS is currently responsible for identifying the training needs and for connecting the national academic training institutions to the different provincial hospitals.
In addition, LuxDev, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency, is collaborating with the Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA) in the field of public health. TICA plays an important role in facilitating cooperation with Thai hospitals and training institutions. The long-term goal is to establish collaborative partnerships between Laos and Thailand in the health sector (e.g., through the twinning of Lao provincial hospitals with Thai border hospitals, through the development of a telemedicine hub in Laos and Thailand, and through the provision of technical assistance and short-term trainings by Thai health experts).
LAOS – Ongoing health support during the COVID-19 pandemic
The Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg, through the Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme Phase II (LAO/027), is deeply involved in supporting the Government of Lao PDR in its COVID-19 preparedness and response.
As the country weathers a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, the LAO/027 programme continues to coordinate with the Ministry of Health and other international partners to minimise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the national healthcare system.
As part of Luxembourg’s COVID-19 grant support, three ‘Decontamination Unit’ vehicles and decontamination equipment were handed over to the Ministry of Health in January 2021 to strengthen provincial authorities’ ability to respond to potential coronavirus infections.
These Decontamination Unit vehicles are today fully operational in the three provinces of Vientiane, Bolikhamxay and Khammouane. A team of well trained and equipped professionals is currently providing a rapid and mobile response in each of the three provinces. The Decontamination Unit is responsible for the disinfection and decontamination of healthcare and non-healthcare settings potentially contaminated by coronavirus such as isolation facilities, hospitals, official buildings as well as other locations where suspected, probable, and confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been.
Decontamination at a quarantine centre in Phonhong, Vientiane Province (March 2021) © LuxDev
Disinfection at a COVID-19 treatment facility in Khammouane Province (April 2021) © LuxDev
Disinfection at the Provincial Health Department (PHD) Office in Vientiane Province (April 2021) © LuxDev
Disinfection at the Bolikhamxay Provincial Hospital (April 2021) © LuxDev
Each decontamination vehicle contains essential equipment, including rechargeable battery nebulisers, disinfectants, cleaning materials, and other supplies such as protective equipment, goggles, boots, and gloves.
Decontamination Unit’ vehicle (April 2021) © LuxDev
As the number of new cases continue to increase, the request for decontamination is outpacing the current capacities. The LAO/027 programme has provided the mobile teams with additional emergency sanitation supplies and nebulisers.
Decontamination at a local market in Vientiane province (May 1st, 2021) (pictures published on social media)
Luxembourg, through its membership of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, is also supporting the distribution of free vaccines in Lao PDR. The country has received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility in March 2021. The shipment consisted of 132,000 doses of the SII-AstraZeneca vaccine and it was the first batch of a total of 480,000 doses that are being planned for delivery to Laos via the COVAX initiative by May 2021.
LAOS – Strengthening Human Resources for Health through ScholarshipsThe story of Dr Thialor, Laotian doctor working in a remote mountainous area and beneficiary of a Luxembourg funded scholarship for a specialisation in Family Medicine
Xaychamphone district is a remote and hard to reach mountainous area located in Bolikhamxay Province, central Laos. The district stretches along the border with Vietnam, is sparsely populated and is one of the poorest districts in Bolikhamxay province.
The Xaychamhone district hospital is a type B hospital with 15 beds and with no capabilities to provide surgeries. The 29 health personnel, currently working in Xaychamphone district, provide curative and preventive health care services to 17 villages and to a target population of 10,800 people, mainly farmers, among whom 64,2 % are considered to be poor (World Bank, 2016).
One of the leading doctors at the Xaychamphone district hospital is the 34-years-old Dr Thialor Saysue, the only female doctor with a specialisation in Family Medicine. She graduated as a medical doctor from the University of Health Sciences in Vientiane capital in 2011, and thereafter received a two-year scholarship funded by the Government of Luxembourg to study Family Medicine at the same University from 2015 until 2017.
The Family Medicine curriculum prepares young medical doctors to work independently in remote and isolated conditions. The doctors acquire additional skills to handle pediatric emergencies and to perform some surgical and obstetrical procedures, besides learning how to manage community health assessments and interventions, including outreach village health programmes.
Dr Thialor was filled with immense joy when she learned that she would receive a scholarship from Luxembourg. She hopes that other people in her community can receive similar opportunities.
Photo credit: Humanitarian Media Agency (HUMA)
After her specialisation, Dr Thialor was determined to apply her newly acquired knowledge and skills to the benefit of her village and community in Xaychamphone district. Besides her daily work of treating patients at the district hospital, she is also responsible for delivering preventive health care services in the surrounding villages where most of the population belong to the Hmong ethnic group, like herself.
Dr Thialor and her team on their way to visit Namsak village in Bolikhamxay province. Photo credit: HUMA
…we want to make the hospital services come to them; regardless of their social status, no one is excluded from the outreach services.
Besides financial constraints and behavioral barriers, poor road conditions and lack of transportation means are causing important challenges for villagers to visit hospitals. Therefore, Dr Thialor and her nurse-team quarterly travel to villages in their target area to provide outreach mother-and-child care. They visit nearly each household to ensure that no child is deprived of vaccination and deworming tablets and that each pregnant woman receives a health check-up. Her aim is that communities living in remote areas have access to basic primary health care services.
Dr Thialor during one of her community outreach activities in a remote village in Xaychamphone district, Bolikhamxay province. Community outreach activity in Bolikhamxay province. Photo credit: HUMA
Dr Thialor highlighted that the specialisation in Family Medicine was specifically relevant for working directly with communities in rural areas. She has been doing this work now for several years, and her commitment to integrated family health care grows even stronger. Being a mother herself and being able to speak the same language as most of her patients have helped her to gain the trust of her patients and hence to provide more people-centered services.
Delivery at the Xaychamphone district hospital, Bolikhamxay province. Photo credit: HUMA
I want to see everyone in the community healthy, especially mothers and their children.
Community outreach activity in Namsak village, Xaychamphone district. Photo credit: HUMA
Dr Thialor is also proud that her studies and the scholarship programme have helped her to gain more confidence in her management abilities and have enabled her to take on a leadership role within her team to improve the district hospitals’ performance. She expresses the wish that more young doctors, especially women and health workers from remote districts, have access to scholarships helping them to improve the health of women and children in their communities.
Discover more about Dr Thailor:
Luxembourg funded Scholarship Programmes
The Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme Phase II (LL-HSSP II) supports the goals set out by the Ministry of Health (MoH) as presented in its Health Sector Reform Framework (HSRF) 2013-2025. The HSRF has identified various priority areas, among which human resource capital development is prioritised.
Indeed, the significant shortage of specialists in clinical disciplines, especially at the district level, is one of the major challenges affecting the quality of health services in Laos.
Accordingly, the LL-HSSP II places capacity strengthening, a key component for building a resilient health system, at the center of its intervention strategy. The strategic Human Resource Capital Development (HRCD) initiative and specifically the Luxembourg funded scholarship programmes aim at increasing the availability of clinical specialists and skilled health staff in three central provinces, 28 districts and around 200 health centers.
The LL-HSSP II offers training opportunities for health personnel through a mix of short and long-term scholarship programmes to increase the number of skilled staff, but also addresses the skill-mix imbalances of qualified health staff in the three provinces of Vientiane, Bolikhamxay and Khammouane.
Since 2015, Luxembourg Development Cooperation, through the LAO/027 programme, has offered 430 scholarships. Among these scholarships, 37 long-term scholarships were specifically aimed for medical doctors from provincial and district hospitals who wished to obtain a Family Medicine specialisation at the University of Health Sciences.
It should be highlighted that more than 60 percent of the Luxembourg funded scholarships have been awarded to females and efforts are being made to ensure that young women, specifically from ethnic minorities and volunteers have the opportunity to take part in the scholarship programme. Supported graduates must serve at least three years in designated health facilities where the shortage of staff is high.
A budget of 2 million EUR has been allocated so far for the implementation of the HRCD between 2017 and 2022.
LAOS - Luxembourg continues its support to COVID-19 response and provides decontamination vehicles to the Government
International cooperation is pivotal in managing the current COVID-19 crisis and its impacts in developing countries. The Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg remains a reliable development cooperation partner throughout these unprecedented times and has earmarked 3,000,000 EUR to support the Government of Lao PDR in its preparedness and response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Sam Schreiner, Chargé d’Affaires a.i.at the Embassy of Luxembourg in Vientiane Laos, handed over three ‘Decontamination Unit’ vehicles to Assoc. Prof. Dr. Bounkong Syhavong, Minister of Health, during an official handover ceremony at the Ministry of Health in Vientiane capital. © LuxDev
As part of this support, Mr. Sam Schreiner, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Embassy of Luxembourg in Laos, handed over three ‘Decontamination Unit’ vehicles (4x4 pickups) as well as decontamination equipment worth 88,000 EUR, to Associate Prof. Dr. Bounkong Syhavong, Minister of Health, during an official handover ceremony.
The handover ceremony was held on January 27, 2021 at the Ministry of Health in Vientiane Capital and was attended by Associate Prof. Dr. Bounkong Syhavong, Minister of Health, Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith, Vice-Minister of Health, the three Directors of the Provincial Health Departments of Vientiane, Bolikhamxay and Khammouane, as well as representatives of LuxDev, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency.
These decontamination vehicles have been purchased and equipped by the Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme Phase II (LAO/027). The main purpose is to strengthen the provincial authority’s ability to respond to potential coronavirus infections. The vehicles are manned by well-trained and fully equipped teams that are able to provide rapid and mobile response and quickly decontaminate/disinfect multiple sites exposed to potential COVID-19 such as hospitals, isolation facilities and official buildings.
Demonstration of the ‘Decontamination Unit’ vehicles and decontamination equipment to the Ministry of Health. © LuxDev
Each decontamination vehicle provided to the three Luxembourg supported provinces of Vientiane, Bolikhamxay and Khammouane contain essential equipment, including rechargeable battery nebulizers, disinfectants, cleaning materials and other supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE), goggles, boots and gloves.
‘Decontamination Unit’ vehicles in front of the Ministry of Health, January 27, 2020. © LuxDev
In addition to the vehicles, the LAO/027 programme is also offering sanitization training. So far sixteen (16) health personnel designated to be part of the decontamination mobile team (from the three Luxembourg supported provinces) have participated in their first training on safe sanitization treatment in January 2021. The second part of the training will take place in February and will end with a technical examination to ensure quality compliance.
It should be highlighted that the LAO/027 programme support office, based in Vientiane Capital, has been very active since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. Besides its main objective of supporting the Ministry of Health in implementing the Health Sector Reform Framework 2013-2025, the programme has also been supporting the health facilities in the provinces of Vientiane, Bolikhamxay and Khammouane in their response and preparedness to COVID-19.
In addition to the ‘Decontamination Unit’ vehicles, the LAO/027 programme has supported the establishment of isolation facilities in the three provinces of Vientiane, Bolikhamxay and Khammouane. Moreover, the LAO/027 programme has purchased and dispatched essential medical equipment and supplies such as personal protective equipment for health personnel, medical devices for the detection and monitoring of infected-people, decontamination products to reduce the risks of transmission, viral transport media for the transportation of specimen to be tested at the central laboratory of the country for a total amount of 630,000 EUR.
The Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme Phase II (LAO/027) is funded by the Governments of Lao PDR and the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg, and jointly implemented by the Ministry of Health and LuxDev, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency.
LAOS - Digitalisation in the Health Care Sector
The Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme Phase II (LAO/027) continues and maintains its efforts to strengthen the clinical and management capacities of health personnel working in the three provinces of Vientiane, Bolikhamxay and Khammouane.
The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated digital transformation needs in the health sector, more specifically, e-health processes and distance learning. The LAO/027 programme offers now alternative learning opportunities for health professionals, whereby teaching is undertaken remotely and on digital platforms.
In 2020, the programme purchased equipment such as TV screens and video conference equipment, including microphones, cameras, and computers for a total amount of USD 28 600. These wide range of equipment are being installed progressively in fifteen different health sites (provincial hospitals, provincial health departments, and district hospitals) in the three Luxembourg supported provinces and at the national level (Ministry of Health and University of Health Sciences).
Remote English Classes
The video conferencing equipment recently installed at the Bolikhamxay provincial hospital allowed to launch and offer the first remote English teaching programme for the provincial hospital health staff.
English for beginners, Bolikhamxay provincial hospital, December 2020, © LuxDev
Fifteen health professionals have been selected to participate in the beginners (group 1) and elementary classes (group 2). The first group will be taught from 8th December 2020 until 30th May 2021.
Remote training on Ectopic Pregnancy
In collaboration with the University of Health Sciences (UHS), the LAO/027 programme has also offered its first remote clinical training on Ectopic Pregnancy at the Bolikhamxay provincial hospital on December 15, 2020.
‘Ectopic Pregnancy’ training provided via Zoom, Bolikhamxay provincial hospital (December 2020), © LuxDev
The online training was held by Dr Sengaloun Chanthavong from the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department of the UHS. The training was offered to a small group of five health professionals (medical doctors, midwives and nurses) working at the Bolikhamxay provincial hospital maternity ward.
‘Ectopic Pregnancy’ training provided via Zoom, Bolikhamxay provincial hospital (December 2020), © LuxDev
This important initiative provides health professionals with the opportunity to further strengthen their knowledge and to consult external specialists for advice in a timely manner for difficult cases of patient care.
Digitalisation: a lever to promote development
Digital technology has an enormous potential to improve both the quality and reach of health professions education. Organising and promoting online courses have particularly been useful during the current health crisis and COVID-19 precautionary sanitary measures. The LAO/027 programme established an innovative way of teaching and learning in the health sector which encourages digitalisation of teaching services provided in the longer term.
Moreover, the LAO/027 programme is planning to introduce ‘telemedicine’ in the three provinces of Vientiane, Bolikhamxay and Khammouane. By using telemedicine, rural hospitals and health centres can consult specialists on difficult cases of care and receive advice on diagnosis and therapy, including for referral of patients to better equipped hospitals, thereby strengthening integrated provincial health care systems.
It should also be highlighted that since 2019, the LAO/027 programme has been working on introducing the Electronic Medical Record system in the three provincial hospitals. Currently patient health information is being processed manually in various hospitals across the country. Thus, computerising and automating this process could make the data more reliable and available more quickly for epidemiological and management purposes.
Luxembourg continues to support the Government of Lao PDR’s COVID-19 Pandemic Response
Vientiane, December 2020 – The Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme – LAO/027 continues to work alongside the government and the Ministry of Health to support individuals, families and communities during this unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic.
Through relationships with government agencies, the project LAO/027 continues to adapt to emerging needs to assist the health facilities in the three provinces of Vientiane (VTE), Bolikhamxay (BLX) and Khammouane (KMN).
The project LAO/027 works mainly with suppliers from the region to purchase essential equipment and materials to protect health service providers and to support the national response to COVID-19 pandemic. The provision of equipment and material is based on the needs expressed by the respective authorities from the three Luxembourg supported provinces of VTE, BLX and KMN.
Shipping of equipment to the three Luxembourg supported provinces, LAO/027 Project Support Office, Vientiane Capital
The health supplies provided by the project will be used in the health facilities both at provincial and district levels. The shipments to the provinces contain personal protective equipment to be used by health personnel, medical devices for the detection and monitoring of infected-people, decontamination products to reduce the risk of transmission and viral transport media for the transportation of specimen to be tested at the central laboratory of the country.
Various medical supplies have been purchased and dispatched to the provinces of Bolikhamxay and Khammouane on December 7, 2020. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Luxembourg Development Cooperation, through the project LAO/027implemented by LuxDev, has handed over equipment and supplies with a combined total value of EUR 718,000.
Xaychamphone District Hospital, Bolikhamxay Province (November 2020)
Bolikhamxay Provincial Hospital (November 2020)
Besides the support provided to the Government of Lao PDR’s COVID-19 preparedness and response, it is important to highlight that the project LAO/027 is continuing to support the Ministry of Health in strengthening Mother, Newborn, and Child health (MNCH) services in the three Luxembourg supported provinces. It is crucial to continue to support health mechanisms in order to ensure qualified, well trained and available health force for the provision of essential services, including access to essential MNCH services, without interruptions.
The Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme – LAO/027 co-funded by the Government of Lao PDR and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and implemented by the Lao Ministry of Health and LuxDev.
Luxembourg and Thailand International Cooperation Agency inks Partnership Agreement on Human Resource Development Cooperation for LAOS
The Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency and the Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA) have established a long-term partnership focusing on the strengthening of human capital development in on Lao PDR. The Letter of Understanding (LoU) signing ceremony took place in Bangkok on 20 October represented by H.E. Jean-Paul Senninger, Ambassador of Luxembourg to Thailand on behalf of the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Ms Pattarat Hongtong, Director-General of Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA), Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
H.E. Jean-Paul Senninger, Ambassador of Luxembourg to Thailand (left) and Ms Pattarat Hongtong Director-General of Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA), Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Photo by: TICA
The LoU aims to establish a development and cooperation framework which focuses on:
- improving the effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of projects or programmes in Lao PDR by combining TICA’s and LuxDev’s technical expertise in complementary fields;
- developing and sharing good practices and lessons learned within the framework of human capital development in Lao PDR, particularly in the fields of public health, local/rural development and Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
Based on TICA and LuxDev’s joint fact-finding mission in Laos in November 2019, certain activities will be launched immediately in late 2020 including:
- technical support and training for the Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme - LAO/027; and
- twinning of TVET colleges with Thai tourism-related training institutes for the benefit of the Skills for Tourism porject - LAO/029.
Photo by: Luxembourg Embassy in Bangkok
The agreement will cover the entire duration of the next Indicative Cooperation Programme between Lao PDR and Luxembourg (2021 – 2025) and will end on 31 November 2025. Both parties will review and update the collaboration annually in order to take stock and capitalise on good practice and update the planned collaborations for subsequent years.
LAOS - Official Visits at the Bolikhamxay Provincial Hospital
The Bolikhamxay provincial hospital, located in Paksan and funded by the Government of the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg, was officially established and handed over in July 2018 in presence of Associate Professor Dr. Bounkong Syhavong, Minister of Health, as well as other senior officials from Bolikhamxay province, representatives from the Luxembourg Embassy in Lao PDR and representatives from the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency, LuxDev.
Since 2018, the Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme (LAO/027) has been renovating various departments of the hospital. A great part of the renovation work was finalized in 2020, with the hospital opening its new laundry department, new ophthalmology operating theatre, new administration office for hospital staff, and General Medicine ward, to give some examples.
A. Ministerial visit at the Bolikhamxay Provincial Hospital
The Minister of Health, Associate Professor Dr. Bounkong Syhavong, visited the Bolikhamxay provincial hospital on the 8th of July 2020. His visit mainly focused on COVID-19 as well as on the dengue fever response of the Bolikhamxay provincial hospital. Indeed, besides the public health measures for COVID-19 preparedness and response, the Ministry of Health has to respond to a rising number of dengue fever infections in various parts of the country.
The Minister of Health and Bolikhamxay provincial hospital team, July 8, 2020
The Minister of Health at the Bolikhamxay provincial hospital, July 8, 2020
During his visit at the Bolikhamxay provincial hospital, the Minister of Health highlighted the importance of laboratory preparedness, quality and safety of laboratory testing, and upgrading of competencies of laboratory staff. Moreover, his discussions also revolved around infection prevention and control (IPC) and the 5W1S strategy (“Five Well, One Satisfactory” - the Lao PDR’s national strategy to improve the quality of health care services).
Minister of Health visiting the new administration building of the Bolikhamxay provincial hospital
The Minister of Health accompanied by Dr. Boungnan Phommachanh, Director of Bolikhamxay provincial hospital, and other hospital staff, July 2020
The Minister of Health planted a tree as a souvenir in the compounds of the hospital.
Minister of Health offered a tree to the Bolikhamxay provincial hospital, July 2020
B. Sharing knowledge and learning from good hospital management practices
On the 6th of July 2020, a meeting was held between Dr. Boungnan Phommachanh, Director of the Bolikhamxay provincial hospital, Dr. Ouymixai Sybounheang, Director of Houaphan provincial hospital, and other health professionals from the Houaphan provincial hospital.
The meeting revolved around the 5W1S strategy as well as around sharing and scaling up good practices in hospital management, patient safety and hospital quality improvement.
Houaphan provincial hospital team visiting the Bolikhamxay provincial hospital, July 6, 2020
It is important to highlight that the Bolikhamxay provincial hospital serves as the referral centre for 7 district hospitals and 41 health centres. The hospital also serves as a “model” for other provincial hospitals. Indeed, the Bolikhamxay provincial hospital has been designated to perform as a teaching and training centre for the comprehensive and expanded programme of human resource capital development supported by the Luxembourg Development Cooperation.
LAOS - New ophthalmology unit and laundry department at the Bolikhamxay Provincial Hospital
A. Improving access to eye care services in Laos
The Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme (LAO/027) has been working in partnership with the Fred Hollows Foundation in Lao PDR since 2018 to develop ophthalmology capacity in the three provinces of Vientiane, Bolikhamxay and Khammouane.
As part of its overall objective of reinforcing the scope and the quality of curative ophthalmological services in the three Luxembourg-supported provinces, project LAO/027 has renovated the old ophthalmology unit of the Bolikhamxay provincial hospital. After 14 months of renovation works, the new Ophthalmology Surgical Department opened its doors in July 2020. The renovation costs, including the medical gas system for the anaesthesia unit, amounted to EUR 135 000.
New Ophthalmology Unit, Bolikhamxay Provincial Hospital, July 2020, © LuxDev
The new Ophthalmology Surgical Department of the Bolikhamxay provincial hospital delivers eye health services for the whole province, composed of 7 district hospitals and 41 health centres.
The establishment of an Ophthalmology Surgical Department is an important achievement for Bolikhamxay province and its population of 325 000 people. Today, the hospital provides care and treatment services, including services for eye-related diseases and conditions, from general problems to treatments that require the expertise of specialists.
Since the opening of the new ophthalmology unit, there has been 12 cataract surgeries and three 3 other eye related operations.
Cataract surgery, Bolikhamxay Provincial Hospital, July 2020, © LuxDev
More specifically, the ophthalmology unit offers the following services: comprehensive vision testing, eye examination services, cataract surgeries, treatment of disorders of the lacrimal system or of the orbits among others.
The leading cause of blindness in Laos are cataracts (clouding of the normally clear lens) and this represents an immense public health and socioeconomic problem. Indeed, a loss of vision has not only a negative impact on a person’s quality of life, but it also engenders economic loss, leads to unemployment, and causes an increase in welfare costs.
Cataracts are commonly associated with ageing, however, not all patients suffering from a cataract are old. In fact, the average age of cataract surgery patients at the Bolikhamxay provincial hospital is 50 (as of July 2020).
Cataract surgery, Bolikhamxay Provincial Hospital, July 2020, © LuxDev
It is important to highlight that even though cataracts are one of main causes of blindness and visual impairment in many developing countries, cataracts can be operated before a loss in vision leads to blindness and it consists of a short operation of approximately 20 minutes. However, the major barriers for more surgeries are:
- lack of awareness of eye health care services;
- lack of accessible and affordable surgeries;
- general fear of cataract operations among communities;
- uneven distribution of eye health facilities; and
- limited number of qualified eye health personnel.
Taking the above-mentioned into consideration, it is not only important to implement the appropriate structures to deliver eye care, but it is also important to provide accessible, quality and affordable eye surgeries, to raise awareness on eye health in remote areas of the country, and to increase the number of trained health personnel.
Infrastructure and eye care equipment
Besides the renovation of the building, the LAO/027 project has also provided a new ophthalmology operating theatre with equipment worth a total amount of EUR 90 000 (i.e. slit lamp, ophthalmic microscope, A/B-Scan and anaesthesia workstation).
New ophthalmology operating theatre, Bolikhamxay Provincial Hospital, July 2020, © LuxDev
Human resources for eye health care and capacity development
The new ophthalmology unit of the Bolikhamxay provincial hospital currently employs one ophthalmologist and two ophthalmology nurses (both nurses followed a special eye care training for four months at the National Eye Care hospital in Vientiane Capital).
Besides the provision of infrastructure and equipment, project LAO/027 also supports capacity development through various short and long-term scholarships. The LAO/027 project offers scholarships for the following programs/ training courses:
- short-term training for nurses and medical doctors (courses in ophthalmologic nursing; courses on visual impairment and blindness); and
- long-term scholarships for medical doctors (one year for basic eye doctors; three years for Ophthalmologist Specialist Residency).
Currently, one eye doctor from the Bolikhamxay provincial hospital is following an OSR course (Ophthalmology Specialization Residency). He has finished his first year at Thammasat University in Thailand and is currently continuing his final academic year at the University of Health Sciences in Vientiane and at the National Ophthalmology Centre. He is expecting to complete his training in September 2021.
The key to preventing avoidable blindness and visual impairment is improving the delivery of surgical eye care services in the Lao PDR as well as enabling more people to access quality and affordable eye care.
However, a great part of the population, particularly in remote and the poorest areas of the country, are not aware of eye health and eye diseases. Thus, informing communities about eye care, avoidable blindness as well as raising awareness on the availability of services, is crucial.
In this regard, project LAO/027 supports outreach activities in the three central provinces of Vientiane, Khammouane and Bolikhamxay. Due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, there were no outreach activities between January and June 2020. However, in previous years, the provincial ophthalmologist went on field visits to provide clinical supervision support at the district level and to find cases in remote areas of the country that required a cataract surgery.
B. Safety, cleanliness and the opening of the new laundry department
Besides the new Ophthalmology Surgery Department, the LAO/027 project has also renovated various other departments of the hospital, including the laundry building. The new laundry department is operational since the 6th of July 2020.
New laundry building at the Bolikhamxay Provincial Hospital; Soaking sink and drying racks, July 2020, © LuxDev
Ensuring good hygiene is a priority in a hospital. Therefore, renovating the building and installing modern laundry equipment is important in order to save power and water but also to avoid that any infection is passed through the hospital clothing or linens.
The laundry building ensures the supply of clean clothes and linens for the operating theatres (OTs), the delivery rooms, the emergency unit, the five (5) patient wards as well as for several outpatient department (OPD) consultation rooms (around 25 units).
On average, 110 kg of dirty clothes and linens are washed per day. The laundry department manages the: changing of linens; picking up of dirty clothes; disinfection, cleaning, drying, ironing and distribution of the clothes and linens to the corresponding department of the hospital; sewing of bed and instrument wrapping sheets; and repairing of teared linens.
Laundry team responsible for keeping the hospital clothing and linens clean, Laundry building at the Bolikhamxay provincial hospital, July 2020, © LuxDev
Distribution of clean clothes and linens, Bolikhamxay Provincial Hospital, July 2020, © LuxDev
The new laundry department has been equipped with laundry equipment including washer extractors, dryers, irons, and sewing tables.
LAOS - COVID-19 Nasal pharyngeal sample taking training
Luxembourg Cooperation through its Lao-Luxembourg Health support program (LAO/027) is continually supporting the Lao PDR in its efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Infection prevention and control (IPC) is vital in minimizing the harm caused by the spread of infection. In this regard, the LAO/027 project, in close cooperation with the National Centre of Laboratory and Epidemiology (NCLE), has been providing guidance and training to enhance cleaning practices in health facilities, as well as COVID-19 nasopharyngeal specimen collection trainings for frontline health workers.
Aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, the trainings and guidance have been delivered to 68 health workers from the three central provinces of Vientiane (VTE), Bolikhamxay (BLX) and Khammouane (KMN), for a total amount of LAK 51,044,000 (5,050 EUR).
COVID-19 sample taking training, Vientiane Province (June 16, 2020)
The main objective of the training courses was to better prepare the provincial and district hospital staff in taking samples to identify individuals carrying the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Upon completion of the training, the hospital staff (mainly laboratory technicians and frontline nurses) should be able to safely collect nasopharyngeal swab specimens from individuals with suggestive symptoms, known to have been exposed or to have the coronavirus, for testing purposes. Furthermore, the participants have learned to safely package and transport the samples to a reference laboratory following international safety procedures and guidelines.
Use of PPE, practical training, Bolikhamxay Province (June, 2020)
More specifically, the training consisted of half a day theory, focusing on:
- self-protection during patient contact (the proper use of N95 masks, the use, donning and doffing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the safety principles of laboratory biohazard);
- the proper technique for collecting COVID-19 specimens by using the nasal pharyngeal swab technique;
- the proper transfer of the sample collection to the central laboratory;
- disinfection methods; and
- clinical waste management.
The training also consisted of half a day of practical training, focusing on:
- practical exercises and real sample taking using the nasopharyngeal swab technique;
- the use of PPE by strictly following the safety steps and guidelines.
COVID-19 Sample Taking Training, Vientiane Province (June 16, 2020)
During the practical session, the participants had the opportunity to practice the nasopharyngeal swab technique, sample packing and sample transportation to the NCLE. Moreover, the health staff were trained on the use of PPE, cleaning and the disinfection of premises.
The training sessions were held:
- In VTE Province: 20 participants (the training was divided into 2 batches of 10 people consisting of 6 staff from the Provincial Hospital, 14 staff from 11 district hospitals); training organised on 15-16 June (batch 1) and 17-18 June (batch 2) at the Vientiane Provincial Hospital.
- In BLX Province: 15 participants (12 lab staff from six district hospitals, 2 lab staff from BLX Provincial Hospital and 1 lab staff from the Provincial Health Department); training organised on 24-25 June 2020.
- In KMN Province: 33 participants (the training was divided into 3 batches consisting of 3 lab technicians from KMN provincial hospital, 10 lab technicians from 10 districts, 2 lab technicians from the military hospital, 18 lab technicians from KMN community hospitals); training organised on 1st of July (batch 1 with NCLE), on 7-8 July (batch 2) and 9-10 July (batch 3).
LAOS – Luxembourg Cooperation supports Lao PDR’s efforts to tackle COVID-19Solidarity does not stop at our borders!
Luxembourg Cooperation, through its Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme - Phase II (LAO/027) implemented by LuxDev, is supporting the Government of Lao PDR in its response to COVID-19 pandemic.
The Government of Lao PDR together with its international counterparts have reacted rapidly to the COVID-19 pandemic and have launched a national COVID-19 procurement list to facilitate the coordination of support and to deliver a strong and coordinated response at national and subnational levels.
LAO/027 is providing supplies and technical support in areas where gaps in capacity and resources have been identified. More specifically, LAO/027 Provincial Health Planning Management Advisors (HPMA) and Nurse-Midwife Trainers Advisors (NMTA) are closely supporting the COVID-19 preparedness in the three Provinces of Vientiane, Bolikhamxay and Khammouane that Luxembourg supports.
New In Patient Department at Bolikhamxay hospital
To ensure the efficiency and efficacy of its contribution, LAO/027 is:
- coordinating its support with national counterparts and other international development partners in Lao PDR;
- following the World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines as well as international literature on COVID-19 emergency preparedness.
The LuxDev team is communicating on a daily basis with the National and Provincial Health Departments (PHDs), District Health Offices (DHOs) as well as with Provincial and District Hospitals to address the identified gaps and needs.
At the provincial level, LAO/027 is:
- providing support in the establishment of temporary provincial isolation and treatment centers to protect patients from infections and to separate COVID-19 patients from other ongoing essential non-COVID care (e.g. deliveries, surgeries, MNCH);
- working with PHDs and DHOs on regulating patient flows in the designated facilities (adequate first line clinical management, separate registration of suspected patients, sample taking and transportation to laboratories, hospitalization of confirmed patients, referral systems for critically ill patients);
- promoting the elaboration and dissemination of management and clinical procedures;
- supporting facility mapping and the Health Information System (HIS)
Moreover, LAO/027 is providing urgent logistics support. The Program is assisting the provincial authorities in operationalizing their provincial response by purchasing specialized medical devices and other supplies (i.e. acquisition of personal protective equipment, beds, fans, refrigerators, oxygen, disinfectant hydrogels, alcohol, pulse oximeters, among others).
Emergency equipment and medical supplies
So far equipment worth 107.000 EUR has been purchased and dispatched to the Provinces of Vientiane, Bolikhamxay and Khammouane.
The procurement needs and gaps will be continuously updated by the PHDs/ DHOs and will be shared in the coming weeks.
In these unprecedented times, besides the LAO/027 support, Luxembourg will continue to provide every support to its partner countries including Lao PDR. The proposed Luxembourg intervention engages at the national and provincial levels. The current budget proposal of Luxembourg for COVID-19 Health Response is 2 million EUR.
LAOS - 22 ophthalmic nurses are ready for delivering eye care services in hospitals and in remote parts of the countryLuxembourg and The Fred Hollows Foundation support capacity building for hospitals and rural eye care in Lao PDR
On 25 December 2019, twenty-two specialised ophthalmology nurses completed their training course at a graduation ceremony held at the National Eye Centre (NOC) hospital in Vientiane Capital.
Assoc. Prof Dr. Boauthep PHOUMMINDR (Deputy Director of Health Care Department at the Ministry of Health) and Dr. Siphetthavong SISALEUMSAK (Deputy Director of National of ophthalmology Center), presided the ceremony, joined by representatives from the Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme LAO/027, which provided six-month scholarships to six of the graduates, under a collaboration agreement with The Fred Hollows Foundation in Lao PDR.
Scholarship recipients with Ms Sommay Sibounheuang, LAO/027 Scholarship Officer. ©LuxDev
The Fred Hollows Foundation (https://www.hollows.org) is an independent, not-for-profit international development organisation working towards the elimination of avoidable blindness. Founded in Australia in 1992, The Foundation helps to create sustainable eye care systems in more than 25 countries, including Lao PDR.
The Fred Hollows Foundation has a long-standing collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the National Ophthalmology Center, acquiring expertise in identifying national and provincial needs for eye care development, curriculum development and student selection, technical standards and supervision of eye care service delivery.
Eye examination in the provincial hospital in Bolikhamxay, newly renovated by LAO/027, ©LuxDev
The LAO/027 Programme and the Fred Hollows Foundation entered into a synergic collaboration agreement (September 2018 – December 2020), to provide complementary support for the capacity development and training of ophthalmology staff in the provinces of Bolikhamxay, Khammouane and Vientiane Province.
This partnership aims to support the national health authorities in organising 18 six-month ophthalmology specialist nurse courses, eight one-year “Basic Eye Doctor Courses (BED)” for newly graduated medical doctors, and 10 three-year Ophthalmology Specialists Residencies in Lao PDR and Thailand.
Along with the trainings, LAO/027 is also supporting the upgrade of eye care out-patient and surgery facilities in the provincial hospitals. The newly trained eye health staff will provide eye care through community outreach activities, such as cataract surgery.
While infectious eye diseases such as trachoma were virtually eliminated in Lao PDR over the last decades, the country still struggles to provide adequate care for aging-related eye diseases such as cataract and glaucoma. More prevalent in rural areas, these diseases cause poor vision and blindness, resulting in exclusion and a lower quality of life for the elderly. It is estimated that nationwide, only one third of serious cataract cases are being treated, and often still by sub-standard procedures.
The ophthalmic nurses graduation session, © LuxDev
The students graduated on Luxembourg Development Cooperation scholarships will be posted at provincial and district hospitals for delivering eye care services in hospitals and in remote parts of the country. They will also be educating communities about avoidable blindness, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and provincial health departments.
LAOS - International Nurses Day Celebration promotes patient-centred care in Luxembourg supported hospitals
Each year in May, it has become a worldwide tradition to celebrate the founding of modern nursing as introduced by Ms Florence Nightingale, who gained fame for her pioneering work in training and organising nursing care during the Crimean War (1853-56), during which she cared for wounded soldiers.
In the Lao PDR, three provincial hospitals in the provinces of Bolikhamxay, Khammouane and Vientiane being supported by the LAO/027 programme. These provincial hospitals provide medical, surgical and obstetrical referral care for a total population of 1.1 million, as well as technical supervision to 28 district hospitals and 178 primary care health centres across the three provinces.
The above-mentioned hospitals have also embraced the International Nurses Day Celebration tradition since several years, to promote the importance of a modern nurses’ professional corps, which acts as an interface between doctors and patients, rendering quality hospital care effective and responsive to needs and aspirations of patients.
Poster of Nurse Day Celebration 2019 in Bolikhamxay hospital.
The LAO/027 programme has been progressively upgrading the medical and nursing practice and management in these hospitals to modern standards, through the provision of equipment, renovations, scholarships and intensive in-situ training, coaching and supervision by a dedicated team of external senior nurse-midwife experts since its start in 2014. Health care has been upgraded equally in district and village health facilities, for both curative and preventive care, with a focus on mother’s, new-born’s and children’s health.
Nurses Day Celebration 2019 in Bolikhamxay provincial hospital
Nurses Day Celebration 2019 in Khammouane provincial hospital
The 2019 Nurses Day celebrations in the hospitals of Bolikhamxay and Khammouane were held in May, presided by high-level administrative and sanitary officials, and were attended by medical doctors, nurse professionals and students.
Oral presentations and posters highlighted the progress accomplished over the last year in nursing techniques and organisation, and allowed nursing staff to take pride in their work and renew their commitment towards ad continuous quality improvement mechanism that will be an ongoing challenge for many years to come.
Joyful advocacy for hand-disinfection practice among nurse students, during the celebration in Khammouane hospital.
Officials learn from poster presentations prepared by Bolikhamxay nurses.
LAOS - Reinforcement of public funding and financial management
On 15 May 2019, HE Prof Dr Bounkong Syhavong, Minister of Health of Lao PDR, presided an inter-ministerial meeting of the National Council overseeing the Lao-Luxembourg LAO/027 Programme’s “Joint Participatory Mechanism” (JPM).
Women and children attending village health clinic
The JPM is an innovative financing mechanism, by which the LAO/027 Programme multiplies provincial government budgets annually on a common imprest account, for the timely provision of mother and child health services in three central provinces of Laos (population 1.1 Million). Application of the JPM multiplier formula is based upon well-defined budget-activity plans, timely imprest account deposits by the government and detailed target indicators on service quality, outputs and outcome.
The JPM began in 2018, following a previous 10-year experience of direct delegation agreement for Funds and Implementation.
Joint Participatory Machanism National Secretariat national review meeting 1st quarter 2019
The JPM aligns with the provincial budgetary planning cycles and provides effective and sufficient funding at the beginning of the fiscal year for the entire operational year. A transparent participative provincial planning process allows all district health system facilities (178 village health centres, 28 district hospitals) to receive operational budgets effectively and timely, through quarterly budget replenishment cycles.
Provincial training on Joint Participatory Mechanism financial management training
The National Council meeting hosted high-ranking representatives from the Ministries of Health and Planning and Investment, as well as the Resident Representative of the World Health Organisation and Mr Sam Schreiner, Chargé d’affaires a.i. Embassy of Luxembourg in Vientiane Laos.
Joint Participatory Machanism National Council Annual Meeting chaired by HE HE Prof Dr Bounkong Syhavong, Minister of Health of Lao PDR (thirth from the left) and co-chaired by Mr. Sam Schreiner, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Embassy of Luxembourg in Vientiane (seond from the left)
During the recent meeting, the Council Members reviewed the results achieved during the first full year of JPM activities implementation in 2018, for a total budget of 1,082,136 EUR (20% MOH, 80% LAO/027 contributions), and endorsed the reports of the independent external auditors, stating a reconciled disbursement rate of 99% for the three provinces combined.
The National Council furthermore examined the first quarterly progress report of the ongoing 2019-year budget-activity plans, and approved the provincial activity proposals for the 2020 budget cycle (total provincial and Luxembourg amount combined of 1,317,952 EUR)
A JPM National Secretariat, embedded in the Ministry of Health, monitors quarterly the provincial results towards the achievement of the national targets for SDG 3 (Sustainable Development Goals for Health) and the national MCH policies and strategies. The Secretariat’s work is executed through the national Health Management information system and completed with supportive supervision and quarterly review and planning meetings.
LAOS - Nurses and midwives receive short-term scholarships on High Risk Pregnancy and Nursing Care Management
Six young nurse-midwifes from Bolikhamxay, Vientiane and Khammouane provincial hospitals recently received a 4-month training scholarship on “High Risk Pregnancy Management “at the Boromarajonani College of Nursing in Khon Kaen (BCNKK) in Thailand.
In addition, the project offered scholarships to six young nurses, who are now working in intensive care or emergency units in the above-mentioned provincial hospitals. These students will study “Nursing Care Management for Trauma Patients" at the University of Khon Kaen, Faculty of Nursing.
These 4-month intensive upgrading courses target the education of young and dynamic candidates. In terms of the beneficiaries, there is an even split between civil servants and volunteer staff.
Investing in human resources for health is part of an ongoing effort of the LAO/027 project that aims to improve performance of health services delivery particularly for Maternal Neonatal and Child Health (MNCH) activities in the project areas.
Scholarship recipients, second row and four at the back row from the left.
LAOS - Six midwives and nurses successfully graduated from a training course on High-Risk Pregnancy Nursing Care
The Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme Phase II (LAO/027), recently offered six short-term scholarships to nurses and midwives from the provincial hospitals of Vientiane, Bolikhamxay and Khammouane province to attend a four-month training course on High-Risk Pregnancy Nursing Care at the Boromarajonani College of Nursing in Khon Kaen, Thailand.
This short-term training started in August of this year, and the first group lately graduated after completing this course on quality nursing and midwifery training. Several additional groups of dedicated nursing staff will benefit from this regionally based short-term scholarship over the next two years.
The LAO/027 programme offers a comprehensive package of long and short-term scholarships to both volunteers and civil servants as part of its human resource capital development programme.
LAOS - Official launch of the new Luxembourg-funded Bolikhamxay provincial hospital
A handing over ceremony of the brand new Bolikhamxay provincial hospital took place on 10 July 2018 in the provincial capital Pakxan.
The ceremony was attended by Associate Professor Dr Bounkong Syhavong, Minister of Health, PhD Mr Kongkeo Xaysongkham, Governor of Bolikhamxay Province, PhD Mr Kikeo Chanthabouly, Deputy-Minister of the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Mr Claude Jentgen, Chargé d’affaires at the Luxembourg Embassy in Vientiane, senior officials from the concerned Ministries of Bolikhamxay Province and representatives from the Luxembourg Development Cooperation.
The newly built hospital complex includes a new core development and renovation of buildings from the old provincial facilities.
The new complex has been designed to function as the referral centre for Bolikhamxay but will also perform as the teaching and training centre for the comprehensive and expanded programme of human resource capital development supported by the Luxembourg Development Cooperation.
The hospital includes a modern technical block of three high-tech operating theatres, a central sterilizing department, an expanded maternity department complete with two delivery suites, radiology and laboratory departments incorporating bacteriology and hematology specialties.
Specialized outpatient services include dentistry, physiotherapy, Ear-Nose-Throat and Eye clinics.
Inpatient services have been designed to focus on patient-centred quality of care. Dedicated resting and open spaces have been provided to facilitate a friendly climate for both patients and staff. Dedicated overnight shelters for families are foreseen in the next phase.
This development is part of the long-standing support to the Lao health sector support project LAO/027 by the Luxembourg Development Cooperation. The focus is on health system strengthening and it is fully aligned with the national health sector reform strategy. In addition to supporting human resource capacity development, health financing, provincial governance and improvements to quality in service delivery, the construction and provision of equipment underpin the establishment of a suitable enabling environment.
The facility serves a population of 285,000 inhabitants and is the reference centre for seven district hospitals and 40 health centres. The hospital complex employs 180 staff members, of which 30 are medical doctors and specialists and 75 nurses and midwives. Based on previous months’ operations, the projected 2018 attendance figures are 35,000 external out-patients visits, including 1,500 dental and 2,800 ophthalmology patients. A total of 140 beds are equipped for 7,000 hospitalisations, 1,100 deliveries and 1,400 surgery cases, among which 200 are expected to be caesarean sections. More than 25,000 laboratory examinations, 10,000 radiology and echo examinations are forecast during 2018. Currently, the bed occupancy rate is 83 per cent.
The hospital services scope is also fully compliant with the recently issued “Essential Health Services Package 2018-2020”. The facility also provides preventive services, focused on mother and child care, while the recent Ministry of Health Insurance Initiative will increasingly reach the more vulnerable segments of the population with equitable health care.
The work started in August 2015 and was completed in April 2018. Luxembourg contributed 2,965,000 USD for the construction of the 4,800 square meters central facility and 2,300 square meters of ancillary services such as the technical maintenance department, waste management, central medical gasses infrastructure, parking lots and landscaping. An additional 980,000 USD was provided on high-end medical equipment, instruments and medical furniture.
Although building construction and medical equipment installation is completed, some works are ongoing and are planned in 2018-19, including the renovation of the administration building, an additional general medicine ward, a joint venture ophthalmology operation theatre, emergency room and hospital link, pharmacy store and laundry services.
The LAO/027 project will continue to provide onsite technical expertise in hospital management, nursing and midwifery. Collaboration with third-party organizations will complement the onsite expertise to strengthen the quality of services. A three-year dedicated programme of scholarships and regional partnerships is operational for the upgrading of skills of health care providers at both the new facility and in the province.
Laos - First births in new Bolikhamxay provincial hospital !
The new Bolikhamxay provincial hospital has been welcoming its first newborns. This hospital, supported by Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Program Phase II (LAO/027), will help to improve health care services in Bolikhamxay and contribute to reducing provincial maternal, neonatal and child mortality rates.