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Saravan Province, Lao PDR. August 27, 2012. The Lao PDR Government awarded the Prime Minister's Cross of Labour to UNFPA staff Dr. Sengsay Siphakanlaya, Programme Officer on IEC/BCC, for his "strong commitment and contribution to support the Saravan Government Office to empower communities to improve their health seeking behaviour" said Mr. Bouathong Khounyordpanya, Director of Personnel and Organization Department of Salavan Provincial Government.

The support provided under UNFPA's 4th Country Programme (2007-2011), included the provision of family planning services in remote areas through community-based distribution (CBD) agents. "These trained agents visit every household once a month to provide counselling and services, including to adolescents and young people, married or unmarried. They speak the same ethnic language, belong to the same community, and share the same social norms." Said Dr. Siphakanlaya.

In Lao PDR, specially trained ‘CBD agents' are the reason why more hard-to-reach women are using modern methods of contraception and why local family planning services are providing better care and serving more clients. The successful programme has been documented in the UNFPA publication Good Practices in Essential Supplies for Family Planning and Maternal Health and the video Bringing Family Planning to Remote Lao Villages.

Dr. Siphakanlaya is a Lao National medical doctor. He has been working with UNFPA since 2007 within the Demand Creation programme to increase the utilization of reproductive health services especially family planning, antenatal care, delivery and post-natal care.

UNFPA CO received the President's Medal of Labour Second Class for its technical and financial support to the programme.

"After 4 years working with you, we can confidently say that you have the capacity and are able to continue this good work to improve the wellbeing of women, children and families in your province" said Dr. Esther Muia, UNFPA Lao Representative. "We can say without hesitation that the efforts in maternal and child health in Saravan province are significantly contributing to fast-tracking of achieving the set targets for MDG 4 and 5 by the Government of Lao PDR", she added.