August 29, 2013
VIENTIANE – The United Nations (UN) in Lao PDR has secured US$753,504 from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to fight the ongoing dengue epidemic in the country.
The funding, confirmed on the 13 August 2013, comes at a critical time to ensure the Government‘s efforts to control and prevent the spreading of the outbreak will be sustained. As of 25 August 2013, a total of 44,037 dengue cases, including 89 deaths, have been reported in Laos. These numbers are at least ten times higher compared to the same period in 2012. The current epidemic could be one of the worst in the history of Lao PDR.
The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Lao PDR, Mr. Minh Pham, expressed his appreciation for the response by the Government and its development partners to date. “We are pleased to continue contributing to the coordinated efforts of the humanitarian community to fight the epidemic and to enable the Government to boost their response”, he said.
Mr. Pham will be meeting the Minister of Health, Prof. Dr Eksavang Vongvichit, this week to brief him on the CERF grant and to discuss the support provided to the Government by the international community to date.
The new grant comes in addition to earlier emergency funding of nearly $100,000 provided by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in July to help manage the dengue outbreak in Lao PDR.
The new funds will be channeled to 11 provinces with the highest incidence of dengue, including Vientiane Capital and Vientiane province. The funding will be used to support 815 medical and nursing students in the field for surge capacity in the areas of clinical management and supervision for community action. A recent assessment by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) of four dengue-affected provinces in the South suggested that surge capacity for vector control has been instrumental in reducing the incidence of dengue. Part of the funds will also go towards purchasing life-saving equipment for 123 district hospitals.
The World Health Organization will be working closely with the Ministry of Health, University of Health Sciences and other related agencies to ensure effective usage of the extra funds. "I hope that these grants will allow for the successful implementation of life-saving humanitarian activities." commented Ms Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.