A team from IPPF’s RESPOND Project Management Unit paid another country visit to review and observe the ongoing work on the RESPOND program – this time to Laos, where IPPF ESEAOR’s collaborating partner The Promotion of Family Health Association (PFHA) – a highly respected and leading Non-Profit Association in the country - provides vital SRH services in two northern provinces through the programme, supported by a two year grant from the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The only landlocked country in Southeast Asia, Lao People's Democratic Republic is a socialist state with a population of seven million (approx.) spread across largely mountainous and undeveloped areas, which means that many of the indigenous communities in these areas have difficulties in accessing quality healthcare. Focusing on remote rural areas in mountainous regions, RESPOND supports the strengthening of government-run health centres that services ethnic communities in hard-to-reach locations, often over difficult terrain and often with no access to running water, basic healthcare infrastructure or information. Mobile clinics help to address this by reaching out to remote villages, located many hours away by dirt road from the nearest health centre.
Our team met with the enthusiastic and hospitable staff of PFHA at their head office in the capital city of Vientiane, as well as visited the rural district of Nalae in the Luang Namtha Province - a long and bumpy journey through gravel roadways in the mountains, where they witnessed first-hand the ongoing work at the district health centres, whilst also having the opportunity to meet with both the young medical officers on duty, clients and local district health officials.