After almost two years of restrictions, Lao PDR has fully reopened its borders on 9 May, recording a significant decrease in COVID-19 cases across the country in the past weeks. With this positive announcement, the Ministry of Health, WFP, and World Vision have agreed to end the support provided to Quarantine Centres in Savannakhet and Saravane Provinces that was ongoing for 646 consecutive days. The key stakeholders of the project gathered in Kaisone to officially close the project.
Ms. Lingthong Sengtavanh, Vice-Governor of Savannakhet Province and Head of the Provincial COVID EOC, Mr. Outhai Sihalath, Deputy Head of Programmes for WFP, Mr. Ashis Kumar, Finance & Support Services Director for World Vision International in Lao PDR, and representatives from Saravane Provincial government joined the ceremony and shared the achievements of this important project that helped limit the spread of COVID-19 and reduce its impact on vulnerable children and their families. From the start of the project in August 2020 to its end in May 2022, a total of 1,145,470 nutritious meals were distributed to Lao nationals returning from Thailand through the Quarantine Centres, including 951,640 meals in Kaisone district, 25,953 meals in Sonkhone district (Savannakhet Province), and 167,877 meals in Saravane district (Saravane Province).
The program has supported 39,747 returning Lao nationals, including 19,697 women and 5,701 children to access nutritious foods and e better conditions for the people retained in the quarantine centers on their way back home. Among them, Mrs. Kern, 27 years old, returned from Thailand while she was 5-month pregnant, from the garment factory where she worked closely during the COVID pandemic. On her way back home, Kern was concerned about having to spend 14 days in the quarantine center, since her family didn’t have a source of income. However, thanks to the project, her return went smoothly.
On her fifth day of the quarantine, she said: “I feel safe and taken care of because we get three meals a day, and there is a doctor monitoring my health regularly”.
The quarantine centers played a vital role in preventing and controlling the spread of COVID-19 across the borders, and the stakeholders expressed their gratitude to the donors, namely the Government of France, the Government of Germany (BMZ), Japan Association for WFP, Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency, Republic of Korea, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the World Health Organization and multilateral contributions to WFP, as well as World Vision Taiwan, that all contributed to curbing the pandemic through this joint effort.
WFP and World Vision are proud of this collaboration to support vulnerable returning migrants during their quarantine, maintaining their good nutrition and reducing their financial burden during difficult circumstances.