The Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security has been working with the Government of Laos and partner organisations to strengthen capacities to prepare and respond to health security threats, including COVID-19.
In 2016, a Joint External Evaluation was conducted in Laos, which found gaps in laboratory systems, workforce development, emergency responses and the management of zoonotic disease. Laos has developed a costed national action plan for health security.
The Centre conducted a Scoping Mission to South-East Asia in 2018, and these recommendations helped to inform priorities and propose areas for investment. In March 2019, DFAT opened a call for proposals for activities through the Pacific Infectious Disease Prevention (PIDP) and ASEAN-Pacific Infectious Disease Detection and Response (APIDDaR) programs and in 2020, partners will commence activities to prepare and respond to major health security threats, including COVID-19.
The following regional programs have been developed to build health security capacity in Laos:
- Capacity building, field placements for field epidemiology and support for National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology in Vientiane, through the ASEAN-Australia Health Security Fellowship program, delivered in partnership with the Australian National University. The program will provide scholarships to up to nine Fellows from South-East Asia.
- Grants through the Research for One Health Systems Strengthening (ROHSS) program, including Swinburne University of Technology’s Health Literacy project and the Nossal Institute for Global Health’s Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Policy project.
- Southeast Asia Laboratory Strengthening (SEALAB), to build capacity in public health and veterinary diagnostic laboratories through national quality assessments, plans of action, and testing guidelines for clinicians and veterinarians, delivered by the Mérieux Foundation. Partners include the Department of Communicable Disease Control, the National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology and the National Animal Laboratory in Laos.
- Support for collective action to eliminate malaria across Asia and the Pacific through the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA), and funding for the APLMA/APMEN Secretariat to deliver advocacy and outreach and providing policy guidance.
- Support for the national medicines regulatory authority of Laos through the Indo-Pacific Regulatory Strengthening Program to improve the impact and safety of medical products. This program will be delivered by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration, in partnership with the Food and Drug Department in Laos’ Ministry of Health.