Save the Children was the principal recipient for your donation in 2011 who have built a village clinic in remote northern Laos, helping to increase the percentage of the population with ‘access to health’. The World Health Organisation’s definition of health is that a person has access to a health facility within 5km or one hour’s walk.
A new five room village health centre has been constructed in Phonesaart Village, Phieng District, and supplied with furniture and medical equipment. This clinic will provide services for 8 surrounding villages, servicing a population of 11,791 and is staffed by 5 trained nurses and 1 medical assistant. The clinic was officially opened on 26 May 2012 and treated 104 patients, mainly women and children, on the first day of opening. Utilisation rates are expected to steady increase as patients travel from the surrounding villages. Water supply to the clinic has been connected from the village gravity fed water system. Electricity is expected to reach this village within the next 6 months and electrical connections, fans and lighting have been installed.
The clinic offers health services to women and children from the most disadvantaged and isolated rural communities. The program is based on a simple, effective replicable model that is already making a significant impact to the people of Laos. Services conducted at the clinic include antenatal and postnatal care, delivery care, family planning, immunisation for women and children, growth monitoring of children, nutrition and general health education, medical outpatient and inpatient services, pharmacy and basic laboratory testing for malaria and tuberculosis.
Location Map: Phonesaat Village, Phieng District, Sayaboury Province, Laos
When Save the Children builds a village clinic they go beyond the construction and equipment and provide comprehensive training for the nurses that staff the facility. Save the Children has demonstrated that operating clinics means:
- a child’s likelihood of surviving their first year will increase 75% above the national average.
Meet two of the first local women and their children to utilise the new health clinic.
Top right: Baby Sukdar, aged 7 months, attended for her routine immunisation. She was weighed and checked by the nurse and assessed to be healthy and developing well. She is still breastfeeding and has started on solid foods. Sukdar and her mother, Darmone, and older brother, Thaodar, aged 6 years, travelled 4km from Namore village by tak-tak tractor vehicle (local transport) to come to the health centre. She will attend again when she is 9 months old to receive her measles immunisation.
Second right: Provincial and district officials including Mr. Khamla Sittiphone, Deputy Governor of Phieng District and Dr. Khamla Phouthonesy, Deputy Director of the Provincial Health Department contributed 30 mango tree saplings to plant in the grounds of the clinic. These trees are expected to produce fruit next year and this will help improve the nutrition of the children who attend the clinic.
Third right: Mrs. Phone, aged 26 years, is 7½ months pregnant with her second child and has come for her antenatal check-up. She was weighed, had her blood pressure taken and was examined by the midwife, including a check on the foetal heart rate. She was supplied with the routine medications including iron and folic acid to prevent anaemia and Vitamin B1 tablets to prevent maternal thiamine deficiency and infantile Beri-beri which is common in Laos. Mrs. Phone was well and had not experienced any problems during this pregnancy. She will attend for checks every month and plans to deliver her baby at the health centre.
Save the Children will continue to provide funding for the district health team to monitor activities and progress at the health centre on a quarterly basis. The biggest changes clinics such as these make are to the lives of rural women and their children. Bringing health care within one hour’s walk can literally change, and save, their lives.
Images courtesy of Save the Children.
Why the children of Laos?
Laos is one of the poorest countries in South East Asia. Save the Children has developed a strong reputation as one of the leading agencies in the health sector of Laos, working in partnership with district and provincial health departments to improve primary health care.
With its broad ethnicity (the country has over 49 official languages), 80% of people still living in rural areas with little access during the wet season, and with 60% of the population under the age of 24, the country brings complex challenges that need your support. Save the Children aims to help the most poor and vulnerable groups within its target communities, specifically focused on the rights of women and children.
Save the Children has the ability to demonstrate transparent results and relationships working alongside the Laos government. Save the Children Australia (SCA) is formally registered in Lao PDR, with representative office status through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Strong relationships have been established with key partners including the departments of Health, Education, Agriculture and Justice as well as the Lao Women’s Union (LWU) and the Lao Youth Union (LYU).
The Nossal Institute for Global Health produced a paper called ‘Reducing maternal, newborn & child deaths in the Asia Pacific – strategies that work’. The publication demonstrated the remarkable results that Save the Children has achieved in one of Laos’ poorest provinces, Sayaboury, compared to the rest of Laos. Each phase of the program has been built on the success of the previous phase.
The health project is credited with significant improvements and has even exceeded the targets set by the Millennium Development Goals.
The results from Save the Children programs in Laos are impressive and clearly demonstrate the difference they are making to the lives of children.