Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has called on health officials countrywide to continue to provide more information to local communities, particularly to improve outcomes for mothers, newborns and children under five.
The premier made the call on Thursday as he addressed the annual Ministry of Health meeting to review progress in the sector and discuss plans for 2019.
The meeting heard that a lack of access to healthcare and information in local communities has a direct impact not only on the health of women and their infants, but also on their sanitary education and economic prospects.
The prime minister’s advice comes amid a focus on disease prevention measures first, with diagnosis and treatment second.
He said limitations in the capacity and knowledge of medical staff also needed to be addressed.
The prime minister noted the Ministry of Health’s existing policies to improve care in local communities with the government’s new health programme already providing free health checks and treatment for mothers and their children under five in the provinces.
However, challenges remain including authorities being unable to respond to public demand and remote communities having difficulty in accessing health information, which is seen as one of the reasons for continuing high maternal death rates.
Minister of Health, Associate Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong, said the annual meeting helped to strengthen management in local systems and the capacity building and training of health workers, especially village physicians, midwives and specialists.
Last year, Laos made remarkable progress in some areas. The target for reducing the mortality rate of infants and mothers had been met, while strides were made in food quality assurance and medical products safety, he said.
In 2018, the ministry ran projects aimed at increasing access to better quality health services for mothers and children, improved reporting using District Health Information Software 2 (DHIS 2), upgrading the quality of human resources in the sector, improving administration, and expanding the health insurance fund to target communities, the minister added.
He strongly believed the results reported at the meeting would greatly benefit the nation by improving health services through higher quality treatment and technical innovation.
Assoc. Prof. Dr Bounkong said this year the ministry hopes to further reform the health sector and raise standards, especially with regard to maternal and child health, while continuing to upgrade health facilities.