You are here

The COVID-19 pandemic has created havoc across continents and demonstrated the global exposure to local health shocks.1 Lao PDR has been protected from the epidemiological impact of the disease thus far, but there is consensus among experts that the crisis is far from over. As countries suffer multiple outbreaks, and some struggle to contain these outbreaks, easing mitigation measures that expose the country to international travellers, for example, will bring a further risk of contagion and widespread infections.

Over the last decade, Lao PDR has seen extensive health sector reforms, driving great improvements, lowering out of pocket expenditures and improving the quality of care. The efforts have focused on reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH), the provision of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) through the National Health Insurance (NHI) programme, and the continued strengthening of the sector to detect emerging infectious diseases and public health threats.3 Notwithstanding these improvements, the utilization of health services remains low, and access to health care differs by location, sex and ethnicity. Furthermore, out of pocket expenditures are still high, and capacity of the health sector to respond to pandemics and deliver regular care is weak