Thanks to support from the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), and together with the Lao Provincial Health Department, Plan International has been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in Oudomxay Province through its WASH Integrated Nutrition (WIN) project.
From the outset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Lao government were proactive in their response.When Lao’s first positive COVID-19 case was confirmed on March 24th in Luang Prabang city a country lockdown was imposed.
Although the health system in Lao reaches remote areas via a network of health centres capacity and equipment to handle a pandemic situation was lacking.
Plan International Lao was one of the trusted NGO partners chosen to support the development and dissemination of key messages around prevention and public health, and assist in training local health workers.
The task force identified a critical countrywide shortage of PPE and disinfection equipment for health workers in the province. Plan International responded by repurposing ANCP support to enable the immediate purchase and distribution of these essential supplies and equipment.
In addition this, training was delivered to 156 frontline public health service workers and health officials, including 51 females, during April 2020. Using World Health Organization materials, the training aimed to raise awareness and build capacity of the health staff on recognition of symptoms, sample collection, case management of patients, demonstration of proper PPE use, disinfection and prevention.
COVID-19 prevention information was integrated into Plan Laos’ existing WIN project. The project focuses on responsive maternal child health and WASH through community mobilisation, improved services and engagement with local government and civil society. This includes activities providing guidance on dietary diversity and nutrition, breastfeeding, hygiene promotion and improving knowledge and attitudes towards menstrual health.
Information was disseminated at a village level through community outreach sessions held in 280 villages reached approximately 36,500 people.
Dr. Thongsouk Phongsavath, the Head of Hygiene and Health Promotion Section within Oudomxay Provincial Health Department acknowledged “All the people of Oudomxay Province are benefiting from this support.” He said, “With access to accurate information people will better be able to take appropriate action to protect themselves from the COVID-19 virus”.