The United States has provided an additional US$2.5 million through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to support the Covid-19 response in Laos.
According to a press release from the US Embassy on Friday, in coordination with the government of Laos, USAID will provide this funding to international organizations working in the country to control the pandemic.
“This additional funding from the US reaffirms our commitment under the US-Laos comprehensive partnership,” said the US Ambassador, Dr Peter M. Haymond. The assistance will support tasks to mitigate and prevent the spread of Covid-19, community engagement to help educate Lao citizens on the steps they can take to prevent and respond to the spread of the virus, and programs to enhance infection prevention and control.
Through this latest funding, USAID will also support Lao laboratories by helping them diagnose and detect Covid-19 cases and helping to provide surveillance for Covid-19 to minimize the risk of onward transmission to others.
“We are proud that the total US commitments of Covid-related assistance now exceeds US$7.5 million. The US is supporting the government of Laos in its efforts to prevent the spread of this terrible virus and protect the health and well being of the Lao people,” Dr Haymond said. The US has provided more than US$7.5 million to help Laos respond to the Covid-19 outbreak.
In February, USAID provided medical equipment to help frontline health workers safely care for patients in Laos. In March, USAID followed up with more than US$1.9 million of new funding support against Covid-19. Last month, the US provided additional funding of approximately US$3.17 million from the US Centers for Disease Control. Additionally, two polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines, 10 laptops, specialised laboratory filters and autoclaves, and numerous testing supplies were donated by the US government and private organisations to the Ministry of Health’s National Centre for Laboratory and Epidemiology to help scientists and health officials conduct testing and contact tracing.
The US has invested nearly US$92 million in public health cooperation in Laos over the past 20 years. During that time, USCDC, USAID and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency have supported training for thousands of Lao health workers at the national and sub-national levels, including the majority of frontline Lao epidemiologists and public health experts currently fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
Through the President’s Malaria Initiative, USAID support helped the Lao government to reduce the number of malaria cases by 80 percent in the past six years. Separately, the US helped Laos eliminate the eye disease trachoma in 2018.
HIV/AIDS infections in Laos have declined dramatically over the past two decades due to successful HIV prevention and treatment programs implemented by the Lao government in partnership with local communities, with support from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.