MANILA, PHILIPPINES (21 August 2023) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $45 million financing package to help strengthen quality health care in 16 districts across 10 provinces in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR). 

The Improving the Quality of Health Care Project will help the Ministry of Health design and implement quality of care policies, upgrade provincial and district hospitals, and improve hospital management in Champasak, Houaphan, Louangphabang, Oudomxai, Phongsali, Salavan, Savannakhet, Xaignabouli, Xaisomboun, and Xiangkhouang provinces.

“High quality health care that meets the needs and expectations of patients, especially women and children, is key to the Lao PDR achieving universal health coverage by 2025,” said ADB Country Director for the Lao PDR Sonomi Tanaka. “The experience from the COVID-19 pandemic has made this task more critical. Quality health services and responsiveness to patients’ preferences will encourage people to seek care and will result in enhanced health outcomes.”

The project is expected to benefit about 1.6 million people each year. Patients include the poor, women, the elderly, those with disabilities, and ethnic groups living in underserved and remote rural areas.

In recent years, the Lao PDR has made progress in expanding access to health care and insurance. The national health insurance scheme introduced in 2015 covers 94% of the population. Most of the population has access to health facilities within a reasonable travel distance.

Still, the Lao PDR lags behind neighboring countries in health sector development, and inadequate care often discourages people from seeking health services, particularly at the district and community levels.

The project will help the Ministry of Health implement the country’s “Five Goods and One Satisfaction” quality of health care framework. It will also help set up the country’s first health facility accreditation system, with an initial target of 10 facilities accredited by 2026.

The ADB financing will support the Ministry of Health’s efforts to strengthen human resources for health through the establishment of a system for the registration and continuous development of health professionals, the upgrading and equipping of provincial health professional education institutions, and the establishment of an accreditation framework for these institutions.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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