A grant of USD 200,000 provided under the World Bank’s Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility will fund a programme of technical support to 50 district hospitals across Lao PDR to help them upgrade hygiene and infection control. A further USD 800,000 – overseen by UNICEF – will fund procurement and delivery of essential vaccines. Representatives from WHO and UNICEF joined Lao PDR’s Minister of Health Assoc Prof Dr Bounkong Syhavong and Ambassadors from Australia, Germany and Japan at the official announcement of the USD 1 million package today.
Speaking about the overall package, Minister of Health Dr Bounkong said
“The Government of Lao PDR is taking all the necessary measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The support from development partners will help us intensify our efforts and strengthen our national response capacity”.
The Acting WHO Representative, Dr Howard Sobel, said:
“Upgrading hygiene and infection control at district hospitals is critical for responding to COVID-19. Things as basic as broken sinks, or running out of soap, paper towels or bleach can undermine infection control and lead to preventable COVID-19 outbreaks.”
The Safe, Clean and Green Health Facility Initiative is jointly supported by Ministry of Health and WHO to improve health facility hygiene, infection control and waste management in 40 districts. In each hospital, an in-hospital team is capacitated to identify the critical gaps, and develop and implement an action plan. The Ministry and WHO are also engaging with District and Provincial Governments and Health Departments to monitor and accelerate progress on this and other aspects of COVID-19 preparedness. The Ministry and WHO hope this promising approach will accelerate making all health facilities safe clean and green within the next 3 years.
Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF)
The PEF was established in 2016 to provide financial support to lower and middle income countries in case of major multi-country disease outbreaks. The PEF was designed to provide financing through cash or insurance windows, covering six viruses that are most likely to cause a pandemic.
PEF operations are overseen by a steering body composed of donors (Australia, Germany, Japan), international organizations (including the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the World Bank), and two IDA-eligible countries. Voting members of this body are Australia, Germany and Japan; the World Bank and WHO serve as co-chairs of the Steering Body and are non-voting members. FAO, IFRC, UNFPA, UNICEF, WFP and WHO are the six accredited responding agencies of the PEF and can receive financing directly from the PEF to support countries with their immediate health response to outbreaks.