24 November 2014
Vientiane - At a Medal of Friendship presentation ceremony led by the Minister to the Ministry of Health, Prof Dr Eksavang Vongvichit acknowledged the contributions of Dr Liu Yunguo, former WHO Representative to Lao People’s Democratic Republic from March 2011 to February 2014. This medal was awarded by the President of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mr Choummaly Sayasone for Dr Liu’s contributions to development of health care in the country.
Dr Eksavang expresses his sincerest appreciation of Dr Liu’s dedication, in assisting the Ministry of Health to work to attain the health-related Millennium Development Goals; and especially on his strong support to mobilize technical and financial resources to combat the dengue outbreak in Lao PDR in 2013, the worst of its kind in the history of the country.
During Dr Liu’s tenure, Dr Liu has participated in the implementation of the Strategy and Planning Framework for the Integrated Package of Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health, the development and implementation of the Free Maternal and Child Health policy and initiating discussion on Health Sector Reforms. Dr Liu began as Team Leader of Maternal and Child Health in February 2010 before assuming the position of Country Representative in March 2011.
In his acceptance speech, Dr Liu said “This is not only an honour for me, but also to WHO especially my colleagues in Lao PDR, with whom I worked as a team, and the Regional Director of the Western Pacific Region who provided guidance through his many visits to the country.”
Dr Liu commented that during his four years, he has observed continual economic growth and remarkable social developments in the country, and witnessed first-hand the strong political commitment of the Government and dedication of the leaders in the Ministry of Health to make basic health care services available and accessible to people living in remote areas.
Great strides and success in Maternal and Child Health can be seen through a recent joint review by Partnership of Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, World Bank, Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research and WHO, which showed that Lao PDR has already achieved MDG 5 on reducing maternal mortality ratio and is on track for MDG 4 on reducing under-five children mortality ratio.
Although there are many unfinished health agenda and new challenges facing countries in the region, Dr Liu believes that under the strong leadership of the Lao Government, and persistent efforts in pushing health reforms and universal health coverage, he sees a bright future for the country post MDGs; in graduating from the status of the Least Developed Countries by 2020.
Dr Liu thanked Dr Eksavang for his friendship and kind support to his work, and said that the last four years has been the most unforgettable and most enjoyable time in his life. Dr Liu has since taken up the position as Director of Pacific Technical Support and WHO Representative in the South Pacific domiciled in Fiji.