New Australian Aid-funded Dialysis Machines to Support Patients in Laos

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The ceremony of 4 dialysis machines protect Covid-19 were handed over by Australian Deputy Ambassador Dan Heldon.

A LAK 1 billion or USD 65,000 donation of four dialysis machines from the Australian Government will provide life-saving medical support to 4,500 people living with kidney disease or diabetes each year.

An event was held earlier this month at the Ministry of Health in Vientiane, where Australian Deputy Ambassador Dan Heldon and World Health Organization (WHO) Representative Lo Ying-Ru Jacqueline handed the machines to Dr. Bounfeng PHOUMMALAYSITH minister of ministry of Health, ahead of the machines’ dispatch to hospitals in Khammouan, Salavan, and Champasack provinces.

Procured by WHO, the dialysis machines will improve the availability of treatment for those suffering from kidney disease. It will also allow COVID-19 positive patients to be treated separately, reducing the risk of the virus spreading to elderly, unwell and other vulnerable patients who must visit hospitals frequently.

Speaking at the event, the Minister of Health said: “We thank the Australian Government for this generous and timely donation, which comes as Lao PDR is seeing ongoing cases of COVID-19 in the community, and increasing numbers of people suffering from kidney disease and diabetes. This support will save lives in our communities now, and in the future.”

Australian Deputy Ambassador Dan Heldon said: “The dialysis units will provide lifesaving treatment especially for COVID-19 patients with underlying health conditions. I’m glad to know that these machines will be distributed to provincial hospitals in the greatest need and where dialysis capacity is limited.”

“We greatly appreciate this life-saving assistance,” said WHO Representative Lo Ying-Ru Jacqueline, “which comes at a time when safe medical treatment for those living with kidney disease is urgently needed and patients face challenges in accessing services.”

“But, we cannot forget the longer-term – we see an increase in lifestyle-related diseases in Lao PDR, we must remember prevention and healthy habits will save lives. Without it, the number of people in need of dialysis will only increase.”

Annually, more than 30 000 people in Lao PDR die from non-communicable diseases, with diabetes one of the most common. Approximately half of these deaths are preventable.

A 2020 survey by the Lao Tropical and Public Health Institute of the Ministry of Health found that 1 in 5 people have raised blood pressure levels while 1 in 10 have raised blood sugar levels – both warning signs for diabetes and kidney disease – and the majority of them are not receiving treatment.

This donation forms part of almost two million US dollars of support from the Australian Government to WHO Laos to address COVID-19 prevention and treatment, COVID-19 and other vaccination programs, and other health issues across the country.

The Assistance has included early support for COVID-19 testing and outbreak surveillance, funding for vaccines, supplies for laboratories and clinics, and training for healthcare workers.