Category Archives: Health

Chemical Runoff Suspected in Cow Deaths


Chemical runoff from factories is suspected to be the cause of the recent deaths of over 40 cows in a village in Xaysettha District, Vientiane Capital.

Authorities are investigating the livestock deaths, and all nearby factories will be inspected for release of chemicals into water sources. Factories found to have released contaminants will be made to pay compensation to farmers who lost their livestock.

The deaths of the 41 cows comes in addition to 81 cattle that died last month in villages in the same district.

As the industrial sector develops in Laos, animal deaths are fast becoming a serious issue. Herbicides and pesticides used on plantation fields are one source of contaminants, with factories releasing chemical runoff causes further contamination of water sources.

A report published in January by Lao Upland Rural Advisory Service (LURAS) demonstrated that the use of pesticides in Xieng Khouang Province has led to traces of contaminants in the blood of 96 percent of residents in the province.

Source: Lao Post

Reducing Single-Use Plastic Bottle Consumption in Luang Prabang

It is estimated that more than 100 million disposable plastic water bottles are consumed by travellers every year in Laos. Most of them are not recycled. In many areas of the country, where waste management systems are not available yet, people burn their waste. Open burning of plastic waste is a major source of air pollution and releases toxic gases that can cause serious health problems such as cancer, impotence and asthma.

The tourism industry in Luang Prabang is leading a campaign to reduce single-use plastic water bottles. Many hotels and tour operators, restaurant and cafes, museums and other businesses in the town center offer safe drinking water refill stations. Both visitors and residents can easily refill their bottles at their premises for free, or pay less than buying a new plastic water bottle. This campaign is led by the Department of Information, Culture and Tourism of Luang Prabang, Luang Prabang Travel Agents Association and Luang Prabang Hotels and Restaurants Association and is supported by Luang Prabang – Handle With Care Project which is co-funded by the European Union as part of the EU SWITCH ASIA II Programme and implemented by GIZ.

Moreover, a handful of businesses in Luang Prabang have initiated their own plastic bottle boycott with the Refill Not Landfill initiative. Their objective is simple: give tourists the opportunity to help eliminate plastic bottle waste in the UNESCO Heritage City.

“I asked a few businesses if they wanted to pool resources to buy non-plastic reusable bottles to do our bit in reducing plastic bottle waste in Luang Prabang, and also to help make guests aware,” said Paul Burnett, General Manager of the Sanakeo Boutique Hotel & Spa.

The Refill Not Landfill group purchased light gauge stainless steel bottles, which the individual businesses offer to their guests and customers.

Burnett said the Refill not Landfill initiative complements Luang Prabang’s ongoing reusable bottle efforts by targeting tourists.

“Tourists can refill their bottles at some 30 stations around the city,” he said, “And, they go home with a lovely souvenir of their time in Luang Prabang.”

Source: We Are Lao & Champa Meuanglao Magazine

Dietician to Offer Free Workshop on Healthy Diets for Children

Student at Panyathip International School

Vientiane – Nutritional expert, Ulla Bahne, will offer a free workshop for parents and community members who are interested in creating a healthy diet for their young children at Panyathip’s Nonsavanh campus on Saturday, January 20th.

The event which is open to the public is part of a continuing series hosted by the Parenting Community, a service offered by Panyathip International School at Nonsavanh. In this workshop, Bahne, a qualified clinical dietician from Denmark, provides useful information on what is needed for both physical development and mental alertness.

A family picnic follows the lecture and discussion on children’s nutritional needs. The presentation is delivered in English with Lao translation.

“This is a fun activity that allows both children and parents to learn,” says Bahne, who has more than 10 years experience with Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden and the Danisk Heart Association in Copenhagen, Denmark. “There are many healthy food options available in Laos which we will explore.”

Bahne, who has two daughters of her own, recently moved to Vientiane in October and has sought out opportunities to engage with the community and improve public health. In addition to volunteerism, she is an avid reader and enjoys running to stay fit.

“We are thrilled to have such a qualified speaker join our parenting community,” says Greg Dolezal, head of school at PIS-Nonsavanh. “We are always lucky in Vientiane when professionals show such a strong desire to share their talents.”

The workshop focuses on foods and drinks that are needed for strong healthy bone and tissue growth as well as cognitive development. The discussion will address food groups and recommended daily allowances for children to consume as well as staples for a healthy diet that are readily available.

For parents in need of childcare during the workshop, the school will provide fun educational activities for children supervised by Panyathip teachers. Later children can join their parents for the family picnic.

“The parenting community is really about empowering families to give the best environment for their children,” says Natalie Taylor, who envisioned the workshop series. “That’s why we open the event to everyone and provide childcare to give parents the chance to engage.”

The event is this Saturday, January 20th, from 9am to 11am at Panyathip’s Nonsavan campus. More information can be found on the parenting community website.

Mahosot Hospital Upgrade to Commence in Late 2018

President Xi and President Vorachit at Mahosot Hospital Upgrade Ground Breaking Ceremony, Nov 2017 (Photo credit: KPL)

The reconstruction of Mahosot Hospital is scheduled to begin by the end of 2018.

The hospital will be reconstructed as a four-building compound spread over 31,000 m2 comprising one 8-story building, two 4-story buildings and one 5-story building. The hospital will have a total of 600 beds.

“The hospital will be built to international standards to ensure it can provide standard medical service to more patients thus helping limit people seeking medical services overseas,” said Vice President of Mahosot Hospital, Dr Phisith Phousavath.

Xi lays ground for China-sponsored hospital in Laos

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Laotian counterpart Bounnhang Vorachit on Tuesday attended the groundbreaking ceremony for a China-sponsored hospital in Vientiane, the capital city of Laos.Mahosot hospital was built in 1910, and run by French doctors. Now it will be renovated.Of all the hospitals China has helped build overseas, this is the biggest, with a bedding capacity of 600, according to the Chinese media. #XiJinping

Posted by Xi’s Moments on ວັນຈັນ ທີ 13 ພະຈິກ 2017

The hospital will continue to pursue its free-of-charge policy for the economically underprivileged citizens to ensure that all people have access to standard medical treatment, and will continue upgrading curative skills in endoscopic surgery, heart, hypertension and cancer prevention/treatment.

The hospital will be equipped with modern medical technology, and improved staff services will be a focus of the new and upgraded Mahosot.

The reconstruction of the hospital will be financed with a financial grant US$ 105 million pledged by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he had visited Laos in mid November, earlier this year.

Here are an artist’s perspectives of the new Mahosot:

Source: KPL

Laos Partners with Thailand, Myanmar to Control Air Quality

In an effort to control the cross-border smog caused by illegal forest fires, Laos has teamed up with Thailand and Myanmar to address the damage it has contributed to the environment and its poor air quality.

Thailand’s Natural Resources and Environment Minister addressed the topic at a meeting earlier in the week, stating that illegal brush fires pose a threat to the air quality of Laos, Thailand and Myanmar.

With all three countries plagued by forest fires, the meeting discussed measures on how to efficiently prevent and eliminate the issue of forest devastation and haze caused by wildfires in the North, calling on tighter border cooperation between the countries.

Illegal deforestation generally occurs Laos in the countryside of these countries due to the ‘slash and burn’ method- a method that farmers utilize to eliminate large acres of forest area in order to clear land for agriculture.

Technologies of the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency are being used to predict and prevent forest fires.

A forest fire prevention plan has been put in place by the Pollution Control Department, with the purpose of keeping a close watch on illegal brush fires beginning February, 2018.

Panama Epidemic Invades Banana Crops in Laos

A team of researchers from Bioversity International in collaboration with local experts, have recently reported that the popular Cavendish banana grown in Laos, has been infected with Fusarium oxysporum Tropical Race 4 (TR4) at banana plantations north of Vientiane.

Also known as Panama disease TR4, the disease is a soil-borne fungus that causes severe epidemics and crop losses in Cavendish plantations. Though considered one of the most destructive diseases found in banana plants worldwide, the epdemic doesn’t harm people or other fruit varieties.

However, banana plants that are affected by Panama disease seldom produce marketable bunches. Once the disease is established, the fungus persists in the soil for many years, making the production of banana varieties, such as Cavendish, economically unviable.

With the Cavendish banana accounting for 45 percent of all bananas grown worldwide, leading producer Mainland China has expanded commercial production into neighboring countries such as Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

In late October of this year, a team of 4 researchers spent 3 days surveying and observing plantations along the Vientiane-Vang Vieng road axis. It was discovered on a 45 hectares field that crops of Cavendish bananas established in 2014 for export to China, had lost half of the production area due to severe epidemic of Foc TR4. Chinese managers reported to scientists that the disease appeared at early stages after planting, suggesting that the nursery plants which were imported from China were infected before importation.

The Panama disease is most commonly spread by the movement of infected plant material, but can also spread with soil and water movement or by contaminated equipment. Researchers theorize that the initial outbreak in the area was due to infected nursery plants, indicating that little attention is being paid to the threat of TR4 by the Chinese banana growing companies.

The infiltration of Foc TR4 in Laos does not only threaten the rapidly expanding Chinese Cavendish banana production, but also susceptible popular varieties grown by small farmers for local markets in Laos.

Source: APS Journals

Experts Warn Asian Elephants Need a New Alternative

Once known as ‘Lane Xang’, or the land of a million elephants, the Asian elephant population in Laos has decreased by almost half in the past 30 years

New research by French scientists and conservation experts examines how elephant populations depend heavily on the socio-economic practices of a country.

According to research from France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the French Beauval Nature association, initiating a ‘maternity leave’ system to compensate owners for their loss of income during breeding periods, would contribute to the species’ long-term survival. The  system would remove the economic trade-off between breeding and working, and allow the captive population to depend mostly on wild population dynamics, through the mating of captive females with wild males.

In a report recently published in Scientific Reports, research indicates how an increase in elephants’ workload in the last two decades, specifically in the timber industry, has affected its reproduction cycle.

According to experts, the elephant’s long gestation period of 22 months, followed by two years of weaning, makes reproduction impossible when put to work. Furthermore, the exportation of Lao elephants to neighboring countries for tourism purposes threatens the population’s survival.

With data provided by the Lao Department of Livestock, researchers developed a bio-economic model that included an annual estimate of the elephant population based on demographic data such as age, gender and location, as well as 50 interviews focusing on elephant owners’ breeding practices.

Projected over a century, the model simulates the owners’ decision-making process and questions if breeding elephants is more profitable than working for the logging or tourism industries.

Using several scenarios, research shows that if current elephant exportation rates remain a trend, the Asian elephant population could become extinct in a short period of time.

The research also highlights the importance of including both wild and captive elephants in conservation policies.

NRA Aims to Clear UXO From 50,000 Hectares

The National Regulatory Authority (NRA) for the UXO/Mine Action segment has set an objective to clear and eradicate unexploded ordnances on 53,737 hectares of land from 2017-2021.

The target was announced at Wednesday’s 2018 work design meeting on the prioritization of UXO surveys, clearance, mine risk education and victim assistance.

The meeting was attended by NRA Director General, Mr Phoukhieo Chanthasomboun, and government authorities from Vientiane and other provinces.

NRA Deputy Director, Mr Bounpheng Sisawath stated that 3,860 villages require UXO reviews and more than 53,737 hectares of land still need to be cleared of potentially active devices.

UXO surveys and clearance are currently in progress in Borikhamxay, Xaysomboun, Huaphan, Xieng Khuang, Luang Prabang, Khammuan, Savannakhet, Saravan, Xekong, Attapeu and Champassak provinces.

The coming year will see further UXO clearance, roving, surveys, community awareness programmes, and risk education in target provinces, while assistance will be available to victims in UXO-related accidents.

The NRA has reported that clearance teams have worked with international organizations in an effort to clear cluster munitions and other devices on 49,619 hectares of land in 15 provinces. This includes 38,391 hectares of agricultural land and 11,228 hectares of land required for development.

An estimated 1,288,974 cluster munitions have been cleared, in addition to more than 4,200 larger bombs, 646,044 bombies, 2,218 mines, and 636,536 other lethal devices.

The presence of unexploded ordnance slows development in the fields of agriculture, forestry, mining, tourism, hydro-electric power, transport, education and health.

One of the major obstacles for the government is sourcing funds for clearance operations. The NRA must continue to mobilize funds because the budget allocated to victim assistance is very limited at present.

UXO is an obstacle for economic and social development, contaminating land that could otherwise be used for the development of agriculture, industry, tourism and the construction of infrastructure.

During the Indochina War from 1964-1973, over 3 million tonnes of ordnance were dropped from enemy aircrafts on Laos, including 270 million cluster bombs and 4 million significantly larger bombs.

Tests conducted in the United States have found that cluster munitions have a failure rate of up to 30 percent, meaning a large amount of unexploded devices still remain in Laos.

A total of 87,000 square kilometres of land are thought to still be contaminated with UXO.