Xekong province is among the poorest in Laos, with an infant mortality rate of 70 per 1,000 live births and a maternal mortality ratio of 357 per 100,000 live births, according to 2015 statistics from the provincial health office.A World Bank project is currently improving basic health care services for women and children in poor rural areas of Xekong province through the Health Equity Fund.
Over five years, the project is expected to benefit one million women and children.
Xekong province was one of five provinces-targeted by the Ministry of Health and supported by the World Bank to increase the usage and quality of health services for poor women and children, particularly in rural areas.
The project supported health facilities to effectively deliver to the population quality healthcare services, including immunisation, antenatal care, postnatal care, delivery, nutrition, and family planning services.
The Health Services Improvement Project (HSIP) has funded more than 750,000 services that helped poor and vulnerable people gain access to a basic package of health, nutrition, or reproductive health services.
To serve these communities, 424 health facilities were constructed and renovated, and more than 3,350 health personnel have received training.
Under the project, a Health Equity Fund (HEF) is helping to provide benefits to households based on their income status; all of the poor in Xekong province are covered by the fund.
With support from the project, the Lao government contracted the Swiss Red Cross (SRC) to provide free basic health services to poor families under HEF-known locally as the poor insurance card.
World Bank support continues under the new Health Governance and Nutrition Development Project to improve coverage of reproductive, maternal, and child health and nutrition services for women and children in the country.
Over five years, the project is expected to benefit one million women and children across 14 provinces.
In addition, children in higher priority districts will benefit from changed behaviours and practices of their caregivers, as a result of intensive and social behaviour change communication campaigns for improved health and nutrition.
Xekong is also one of the 14 provinces under the new project to receive continued support on family planning, improving the availability and quality of maternal and child health and nutrition services, and strengthening health systems.
Through the project’s outreach sessions, mothers like MsMonemany, 32, have become aware of the importance of child and maternal health care and nutrition.