Press Release

Despite COVID-19, Lao PDR progresses on ICPD25 commitments to invest in women and youth

13 November 2020
@UNFPA LAO PDR

One year ago at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, the world came together to commit to ending preventable maternal death, the unmet need for contraception and gender-based violence including child marriage by 2030.

The government of Lao PDR reiterated its commitment to the ICPD Programme of Action and advance towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda through key commitments including strengthened use of population data for planning and to increase deliveries at health facilities and place a skilled midwife in every health facility. 

Lao PDR has been steadily increasing the use of modern contraception by 1.1 percent annually, but the amongst the unmarried and youth, demand  is high, so the commitments include increasing access for these groups. Recognizing the foundational role that comprehensive sexuality education plays in young lives,  Lao PDR aims to have a nationwide coverage of Comprehensive Sexuality Education in schools and vocational training institutions. All these efforts require review and updating of policies and the ICPD 25 commitments also include work on relevant policies for youth and women which will emphasize leaving no one behind. 

One year of challenges but also determination:

COVID-19 continues to exact a massive toll on women and girls threatening to roll back the progress achieved.  All projections show that reaching the SDGs will be harder now. Here are a few examples of how Lao PDR is attempting to stay on track to meet its ICPD25 commitments as stepping stones to the SDGs. 

Protecting safe motherhood and child birth: in 2020 Laung Prabang province started piloting delivery of reproductive and safe mother hood services via telehealth.  While this is responsive to the COVID context, it has longer term possibilities for serving remote communities also.  Investments also continue to build  capacities of midwives including from ethnic groups to provide basic emergency obstetric care,  87% of maternal health complications can be resolved by well trained and equipped midwives, combined with access within 02 hours to a health facility where C sections can be undertaken. Laos has over 1059 well trained midwives, deploying them to the regions where they are needed most is work in progress.  Some significant progress can also be be seen in:

Better access to modern contraceptives through protecting budgets within domestic resources to purchase contraceptives,   monitoring stock-outs and addressing bottlenecks, increasing availability of well-trained youth friendly service providers to 75% of the health facilities this year. 

Delivering Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE)  9 000 teachers were trained and were able to reach 27 600 youth. Another 28 000 will be reached through partners in selected provinces.  Nang Noi groups continue to be a source of life skills education for out of school girls. Hotlines for mental health and psycho social support have been extended and a mobile app is available for download. 

Establishing a Referral pathway for victims of Gender Based Violence is being established as part of the roll out for essential services for prevention and response to GBV, to coordinate, institutionalize and ensure provision of essential health, social, legal, justice services to women to  improve GBV response. Work is also ongoing to engage mena d boys at multiple levels to address violence against women and promote understanding of gender equity.. 

All this is being done thanks to diverse and innovative partnerships for collaborative results. Financing for development is not just about macro level frameworks , it also requires a different approach to implementation on the ground. COVID-19 has forced us to accelerate and innovate, to adapt; emphasising in the  Nang-Noi life skills projects the value of financial literacy skills, more regular outreach services through a mobile clinic to reach vulnerable youth working in factories, strategies adapted to COVID 19 to protect the integrity and the rights of all. 

 

For more information please contact:

 

Mr. Phonexay SITHIRAJVONGSA, 

Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, UNFPA Lao PDR

Email: sithirajvongsa@unfpa.org

 

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UNFPA, the UN's sexual and reproductive health agency, works in over 150 countries including Lao PDR, to achieve zero maternal deaths, zero unmet need for family planning and zero gender-based violence and harmful practices towards women and girls.