UN contribute to progress COVID-19 vaccination in Lao PDR
- Vientiane, 20 March 2021 – The arrival of the first shipment from the COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX* Facility marked an important step forward for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Lao PDR. The 132,000 doses of the Astra Zeneca/Oxford vaccine received today contribute to the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for the COVID-19 vaccines together with other vaccines received through bilateral cooperation.
The Government of Lao PDR has actively been planning the COVID 19 vaccination campaign. This batch of the Astra Zeneca vaccine is part of the total 480,000 doses which Lao PDR is expected to receive from the COVAX this year to cover about 20 percent of the total population. The vaccines were procured by UNICEF and will be administered by the Government with the technical support of WHO. So far, the country has received bilateral vaccine donations from neighboring China and from the Russian Federation and began its first vaccination roll-out on 27 January 2021. As additional vaccines become approved and listed for emergency use by WHO, it is anticipated that such vaccines, if offered by producing countries, can also come under the COVAX Facility and enlarge the initiative aimed at providing equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Ms. Sara Sekkenes, UN Resident Coordinator to Lao PDR, said: “With appreciation for the work of WHO and UNICEF together with a number of additional actors and financial contributors, I would like to commend the Lao Government for its achievements in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and its efforts in working for the vaccination of its population. The UN Country Team stands ready to provide its technical assistance including supporting resource mobilization and trust-building in and demand for vaccines that meet the highest international standards for the implementation of the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination programme to ensure its safety, efficacy and equity, included therein also the Astra Zeneca vaccine which continues to be regarded by WHO as a safe and effective vaccine.”
According to the Lao Government, the priority group in line for vaccinations are frontline medical staff, officials working at land border crossings and airports, other essential workers, elderly people above the age of 60 and people with underlying health conditions. Ms. Sara Sekkenes emphasized: “Whilst ensuring the vaccination of priority groups first, like elsewhere, we would also like to call for the equitable allocation of vaccines, ensuring COVID-19 vaccines for vulnerable and hard-to-reach marginalized groups such as migrant workers including irregular migrants, internally displaced and rural populations and in particular ethnic populations residing in remote areas and also imprisoned detainees for which the need for social distancing can be challenged.”
Together with the UN Country Team, development partners, non-governmental organizations, civil social organizations and other organizations have been actively supporting the Lao Government to protect its people during the pandemic. A number of activities coordinated and supported by UN in collaboration with Lao authorities to address the health challenges and related impacts in 2020 due to COVID-19 have been implemented:
- UN has provided technical support for the development of the National COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan for Health 2020-2025 to strengthen coordination, planning and monitoring and evaluation for the COVID-19 response. WHO supported Ministry of Health in developing the National Clinical Management Guideline for COVID-19 Patients, which facilitated the training of 618 doctors and nurses from designated hospitals in all provinces.
- UN supported the Ministry of Home Affairs at provincial and district level COVID-19 preparedness by targeting border authorities and providing training and information on COVID-19 screening and on the identification and management of quarantine and isolation centres, including in the provision of food for those quarantined with support from WFP, UNDP, UN Habitat, UNODC and IOM.
- WHO and UNICEF have provided technical assistance to develop the national deployment and vaccination plan for COVID-19 vaccines to improve system preparedness and readiness to introduce COVID-19 vaccines.
- In collaboration with Ministry of Health, UN redesigned the Sexual and Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health Services to continue providing essential health services during the COVID-19 pandemic with particular engagement by UNFPA, WHO, UNICEF and UNAIDS.