Nestled among five Southeast Asia neighbors, the small country of Laos is particularly vulnerable to cross-border spread of infectious diseases. Past outbreaks have strengthened the Government of Laos’s resolve to prevent, detect, and respond effectively to these threats, but the public health infrastructure and systems for doing so are not yet fully in place. After COVID-19 emerged in neighboring China in late December 2019, there was a need for external surge support to reinforce the government’s emergency response and prevent COVID-19 from sweeping the country.

Acting on priorities set by the Government of Laos, LHSS has worked to strengthen nationwide coordination of the COVID-19 response and mobilize community health systems and institutions to assist with the fight. Our efforts are designed not only to respond to the immediate COVID-19 threat, but also to improve the country’s resiliency and preparedness for future shocks. LHSS has supported Ministry of Health and government-led activities to:

  • Train private pharmacies on how to detect potential cases and refer patients to appropriate care
  • Equip organizations and groups to disseminate information to households and communities on COVID-19 prevention, warning signs, and what to do in the event of illness
  • Create culturally appropriate COVID-19 communication materials and messages for diverse audiences
  • Build MOH skills in conveying official information via social media and designing engaging content such as infographics and videos
  • Develop and print 50,000 COVID-19 risk reduction communication flyers for nationwide distribution
  • Train provincial health departments in hygiene and sanitation methods for nonclinical settings
  • Improve procedures for screening mobile populations in border areas
  • Coach provincial emergency operations committees on quarantine facility readiness, surveillance, and operations
  • Monitor quarantine centers in border areas to ensure appropriate risk reduction communication and health checks
  • Increase the national COVID-19 hotline’s capacity to handle high call volumes