Laos is a rapidly developing lower-middle-income country with a population of over seven million people, sharing land borders with Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Myanmar. Australia and Laos are long-standing regional partners with a strong relationship underpinned by development cooperation, economic ties and community links. Australia has a strong interest in supporting Laos’ efforts to develop its economy and contribute to regional health security and prosperity. The 2016 Joint External Evaluation of Lao’s capacity to manage disease outbreaks with potential to spread across borders, showed mixed results in the areas of laboratory systems, workforce development, emergency responses and management of zoonotic disease. Planned support from The Centre focuses on systems strengthening activities based on the Centre for Health Security’s 2018 Scoping Mission recommendations, while building specific capacities to prevent, detect and control disease outbreaks. We are currently supporting an ASEAN-Australia Health Security Fellow from Laos and capacity building in drug and medical test regulation through Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration. Future activities are likely to human and animal health workforce development and laboratory strengthening, as well as outbreak detection and access to data for decision makers.
In March 2019, DFAT opened a call for proposals under the Health Security Initiative for country-specific and multi-country activities to strengthen infectious disease detection, prevention and response in the Indo-Pacific region. Two streams of funding have been established:
- The Pacific Infectious Disease Prevention (PIDP) program - $25 million over 2019-2022.
- The ASEAN-Pacific Infectious Disease Detection and Response (APIDDaR) program - $28 million over 2019-2022.
As at November 2019, the Centre for Health Security is undertaking a collaborative design process with a group of preferred partner organisations, who were selected on the basis of demonstrated organisational capacity and activity concepts.
The following programs supported under the Health Security Initiative include Laos as one of the target countries:
Country & Regional
In partnership with the Australian National University (ANU), the Fellowships program aims to build high-level skills and expertise in epidemiology. Fellows are supporting the work of the Pasteur Institute in Cambodia, the National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology in Laos and other regional institution.
Supporting national medicines regulatory authorities to work together effectively improves the impact and safety of medical products through more efficient regulation. To this end, Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration is working with key Indo-Pacific counterpart authorities to improve regulatory systems and processes, including through sharing regulatory information.
A high-level initiative for collective action to eliminate malaria across Asia and the Pacific by 2030. The APLMA/APMEN Secretariat delivers its objectives through advocacy and outreach; fostering and strengthening partnerships and innovation; and providing policy guidance.