Free Healthcare For Young Children; A Work in Progress

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In a country that is considered below par on accessible healthcare, Lao officials are putting their best foot forward and attempting to provide free healthcare to all children under five at government hospitals.

According to the Ministry of Health, the new policy aims to upgrade health facility development and provide all children under five, in all provinces across the nation, better access to health services within a three month time span. Free health checks and treatments will be made available at government hospitals and dispensaries under the program.

The policy was designed in hopes of standardizing healthcare services, specifically aimed towards maternal and child health. With the high rate of mortality amongst children under five looming over the country’s population year after year, this program was initiated to encourage more parents to seek medical attention for their sick children.

Though health authorities have already publicly announced the policy, the ambitious vision for accessible healthcare countrywide has yet to be successfully implemented mainly due to lack of government funding.

The ministry has requested for all hospitals to submit proposals detailing how the policy would be executed under their supervision, specifically, how much funding would be required.

Deputy Director of the National Mother and Newborn Hospital in Vientiane, Dr Sivanesay Chanthavongsak, confirmed that their proposal has been submitted, however the ministry has yet to contact them on how to proceed. She stated, “we are prepared to carry out the government’s new policy if the ministry provides us with a budget.”

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