By Xayxana Leukai
December 28, 2012
The Ministry of Health will continue to expand access to health services and promote disease prevention and sanitation improvements nationwide.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 7th Nationwide Health Meeting, Minister of Health Prof. Dr Eksavang Vongvichit said that by 2015, health sector professionals aim to achieve all the health related Millennium Development Goals.
“Health education and the dissemination of medical information should be a priority for government officials and medical staff, spearheading the effort to get Lao people to understand the importance of good quality healthcare,” Prof. Dr Eksavang said.
He stressed that individuals need to take some responsibility for their own health and bring their children for routine vaccinations, while mothers-to-be should receive health check-ups at least four times prior to giving birth. During the two-day meeting, more than 500 health representatives from the Ministry of Health, provinces, districts, dispensaries and international organisations heard a summary of the achievements and challenges in relation to the five year health plan.
Participants were told this was a way to support the Resolution of the Ninth Party Congress, by teaching personnel revolutionary morals to help ensure that people from all walks of life live longer and healthier lives. Summarising the year’s achievements, participants heard that access to healthcare services had improved nationwide. The healthcare network now includes the five central hospitals in Vientiane, three specific treatment centres, 16 provincial hospitals, 130 district hospitals, 894 dispensaries and about 5,000 village medical kits.
In addition, various centres of education are raising the skill levels of doctors and nurses throughout the country, including the University of Health Sciences, health schools and health science colleges.
The Ministry of Health has also approved 4,312 communities as model health villages, comprising 47 percent of villages nationwide.
In addition, 85 percent of the population has access to clean water, 61 percent use sanitary toilets, and 57 percent of schools have their own latrines.
Prof. Dr Eksavang said that each year between 67 and 78 percent of children are immunised, whilst a special programme saw 95 percent of children and adults receive rubella and measles vaccines last year.
Health officials were also satisfied with their prevention efforts in relation to malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS/STIs. Additionally, the death rate of mothers and their children is also decreasing gradually, while nutrition promotion is having a positive effect.
The Ministry of Health also has disease surveillance systems in place from the grassroots level all the way up to central authorities.
Communicable and non-communicable disease prevention was effective, participants heard, because seasonal diseases such as dengue fever, malaria and bird flu were largely kept at bay.