ADB to help Lao PDR improve access to health services in border areas

ByAsian Development Bank

ADB to help Lao PDR improve access to health services in border areas

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a financing package of $24.9 million, inclusive of a $4.95 million Asian Development Fund grant, to help improve access to quality health services in the border provinces of Champasak, Phongsali, and Savannakhet of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR).

The Greater Mekong Subregion Border Areas Health Project will enable the Ministry of Health (MOH) to better respond to the health needs of migrant workers and border area populations. Strengthened regional cooperation and integration in the Greater Mekong Subregion has facilitated migration and driven economic growth. However, population movement has also generated unique health challenges, most evident in border areas.

“The influx of migrants to border provinces seeking job opportunities in special economic zones or neighboring countries exacerbates pressures on hospitals and health services in these areas. Universal health coverage for migrants is a strategic approach that benefits both migrants and those hosting migrants, it promotes a healthier, inclusive, and resilient society,” said Principal Social Sector Specialist Rikard Elfving. “The project will improve migrant workers’ and border area residents’ access to quality health care, ensuring their well-being and productivity that drives the Lao PDR’s economic growth”.

The project will upgrade the facilities, equipment, and human resources in Champasak, Savannakhet, and Phongsali provincial hospitals, and in two district hospitals in PhongsalI. It will also deliver a comprehensive program of migrant health services for female and male migrant workers residing in and passing through each province. Finally, it will roll out an electronic medical record to strengthen continuity of care between border area hospitals and health facilities in other regions of the country.

The project, prepared in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration, will further support the Ministry of Health to deliver community-based climate adaptation and risk reduction programs for border areas and migrant communities. These populations are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which serves as a push factor for outward migration and exacerbates occupational health risks in migrants’ work settings.