A new vision for WHO–Lao People’s Democratic Republic partnership
VIENTIANE CAPITAL, 21 February 2017 - Over the past decade, the Lao People's Democratic Republic has observed significant improvements in the health status of the population. People are living longer, maternal mortality and deaths from malaria have been drastically reduced, and the number of tuberculosis cases is in decline. However, these impressive improvements in the country’s health are at risk from a new set of challenges, including rapidly increasing rates of noncommunicable disease and injury.
“Sustaining the Lao Government’s health improvements and supporting the Government to address emerging health challenges will be at the heart of WHO’s work in the country over the next five years,” said Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, during his visit to Vientiane this week.
“One of the most powerful tools we have to achieve better health for all is universal health coverage. Investing in universal health coverage will help to reduce poverty across the country and lead to greater health equity and productivity – in the process helping to ensure that all the Lao people will enjoy the benefits of the country's rapid economic growth,” Dr Shin said.
During his visit, Dr Shin and Lao People's Democratic Republic Minister of Health Dr Bounkong Syhavong launched the new Lao People's Democratic Republic–WHO Country Cooperation Strategy for 2017–2021. The strategy sets out a vision for WHO and the Lao People's Democratic Republic's work together for the next five years, in line with the Government's overall vision for health and social and economic development from 2016 to 2020.
In the coming years, the partnership between WHO and the Lao People's Democratic Republic will focus on:
- building resilient health systems towards achieving universal health coverage, which will allow everyone to have access to health services they need at prices they can afford;
- improving delivery of public health programmes to reach vulnerable groups and protecting against vaccine-preventable diseases like polio, measles and rubella;
- enhancing health security – by strengthening implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005) to guard against emerging infectious diseases as well as antimicrobial resistance;
- facilitating effective policy and dialogue by harmonizing the work of development partners – in particular, through promoting multisectoral approaches, noting that many health challenges facing the country have causes outside the health sector; and
- supporting the Lao People's Democratic Republic to be a strong health partner in the Greater Mekong Subregion and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – this is crucially important for regional cooperation to address shared challenges such as artemisinin-resistant strains of malaria and schistosomiasis.
“As partners, we will work ever more closely with the Lao Government to help address your health needs and priorities. WHO is honoured to be your partner for health and we stand ready to support your efforts in any way we can – in the interests of the health and well-being of the more than 7 million people in this great nation,” said Dr Shin.
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