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PRESS RELEASEMarch 23, 2024

World Bank and Partners to Build on Support for Improved Health and Nutrition in Lao PDR

The World Bank has approved the second phase of a project that is, with partners, supporting improved access to and quality of health and nutrition services in underserved areas of the Lao PDR.

Phase 2 of the Health and Nutrition Services Access Project, which also features funding from the Australian government, the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization (Gavi), and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, will build on a project that began working in target areas in 2020 and ends this year.  

Despite achieving significant improvements across health indicators since 2000, Laos still had the highest child mortality rate in Southeast Asia in 2021. While reductions have been made in vaccine-preventable diseases, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted essential health services and routine immunization, meaning that gains have slowed or been lost. The growth of around a third of Lao children is stunted by poor nutrition and every year, while around 7,000 Lao children die before reaching their fifth birthday, most of them through preventable and treatable conditions.

One of the enduring challenges in Laos is bringing health and nutrition services to the large number of people living in remote villages”, said Alex Kremer, World Bank Country Manager for the Lao PDR. “This project will renew efforts to provide more and better services, and increase the demand for them, in rural communities. Together with Australia, Gavi and the Global Fund, we can apply a strong focus on increasing coverage for women and ethnic groups”.

The project has so far supported improved primary health care services using performance-linked payments and the enhanced District Health Information System, which provides data on sex, age, ethnicity, and location for better planning, monitoring, and decision making in the allocation of resources. Authorities are scaling up the activities of this project in four northern provinces to provide nationwide coverage.

Although the support already received from our partners has helped Laos improve health coverage, we still see disparities in health outcomes and services across the country,” said Minister of Health Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith. “Not all population groups are benefiting equally from these improvements, so the second phase of this project will bring more services and raise awareness on crucial health issues to families in poor, rural, and upland areas of the country.”

To address the low nutrition rates among children in these areas, the project will help staff in district health services and village health centers work with villagers to address high birth rates among adolescents, poor diets and feeding practices among mothers, and low take-up of services, including for ante-natal care, assisted child delivery, and emergency obstetric care. It will also expand services such as family planning, and water supply and sanitation.



Aiden Glendinning
External Affairs Officer
+856 21 266278


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