The Lao Friends Hospital for Children (LFHC) in Luang Prabang celebrated its 8th anniversary on January 27, 2023.
The hospital held a ceremony to celebrate eight years of serving northern Laos, according to the hospital’s communications manager. LFHC is an important center for early-life health care in Luang Prabang. It operates as the only hospital in northern Laos that treats children for free, serving 30,000 children every year.
From its humble beginning, LFHC has transformed into a thriving hospital with 11 departments, 177 staff, and 61 hospital beds. In 2022, LFHC opened the only high-acuity-unit outside of Vientiane and the only entirely free HAU in the country.
It also opened a brand new breastfeeding room, prepared the first milk bank in the country, and expanded neonatal unit to 26 beds. The hospital is free to all children under 15 and has helped over 150,000 children since its opening in 2015.
According to the manager, LFHC will continue moving forward in order to provide more health support to children in Laos. Following the major expansion of the hospital, they will now focus on building its capacity and staff.
The hospital aims to be entirely self sustaining regarding it’s skilled workers. While it was reliant on foreign specialists in the past, the hospital staff is now self-reliant and has eight staff-members qualified to train new staff, including the training to other district hospitals in Luang Prabang province.
Second, now that LFHC has finished its new High-Acuity-Unit (HAU) in October 2022, similar to an intensive care unit (ICU). The HAU can accept and care for patients with acute illness or severe injuries, and is critical to handling the worst cases and saving the most lives. To this end, LHFC is committed to increase HAU staff and their training in 2023. It is the only free HAU in all of Laos.
Finally, LFHC has the only free developmental clinic outside of Vientiane. This clinic specializes in developmental disorders, health problems that are not caused by disease or accident. Instead they are often the result of genetic problems that people suffer since birth. The developmental clinic supports children with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism, and other similar disorders.
In 2023, the developmental clinic hopes to increase it’s engagement with local communities, providing a nonjudgmental space to educate patients and families who have not been previously educated about developmental and genetic disorders.
Infant and young child healthcare is one of the most important factors in an individuals’ future wellbeing and are key indicators in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 3.2 (child mortality) and 3.4 (premature mortality). Laos is currently only 28.6 percent on track in these health related goals.
LFHC has dedicated a full eight years to help improve the current gaps in Lao healthcare. To celebrate the hospital’s anniversary last January, the event welcomed current Minister of Health, Mr. Bounfeng Phoummalaisith, and former Minister of Health, Mr. Bounkong Sihavong, to the event.
To commemorate the event, Mr. Bounfeng gave a speech, praising the importance of giving children a healthy start to life. The event was also attended by the hospital’s founder Kenro Izu.