- National. 25 Jan 2017. Lao health authorities have admitted that the outbreak of dengue fever is higher this year  compared to the same period in 2016. From [1 to 24 Jan 2017], 70 dengue fever infections have been recorded in Lao capital Vientiane, while in the same period last year  there were no reports of any outbreaks, Head of Epidemiology Division under the Vientiane Health Department Chanthalay Sayavong said on [Wed 25 Jan 2017]. The news comes with 12 out of 18 provinces in the country reporting dengue fever at alarming epidemic levels though no deaths have been recorded from a total of 235 reported cases following a nationwide outbreak this year , according to Lao state-run Vientiane Times. <http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-01/25/c_136012675.htm>
Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2016 05:40:15 +0200 By Marion THIBAUT
Vientiane, Aug 28, 2016 (AFP) - "Look at me, stay with us," the paramedics shout as a barely conscious motorcyclist is bundled into a volunteer ambulance in the Laotian capital Vientiane, where rampant drink driving brings nightly carnage to the roads. It is a grim scene familiar the world over.
But in Laos, an impoverished and authoritarian communist country with almost no state-funded medical services, these kind of vital lifesavers are volunteers and entirely funded by donations. And they have never been more in demand. By the time the crew arrive at a nearby hospital, the Japanese donated ambulance -- a right hand drive vehicle in a left hand drive nation -- has picked up two more injured on the way. Fresh calls for help are coming in all the time.
Founded in 2010 by a group of foreigners, "Vientiane Rescue" is a much needed lifeline for those in need of urgent medical care. "Before we launched this service, after an accident the wounded were simply left on the roadside or taken away in tuk-tuks. That's obviously disastrous for those with fractures or trauma," explained Sébastien Perret, a French national and former firefighter who helped found the group. Poorly maintained roads, dilapidated vehicles, an increase in motorcycle use and the widespread prevalence of drink driving makes Vientiane one of Asia's most precarious capitals for road deaths.
- Years of rapid growth - The government keeps few statistics, but Perret's group says demand for their services has jumped 30 percent in the last year alone. "We undertake around 20 to 30 call outs a day. And in 90 percent of cases it is road accidents," he said. There was a time when Vientiane was famed for its lack of cars. Backpackers passing through the city in the 1990s would marvel at the wide, French-built boulevards devoid of heavy traffic, bicycles and tuk-tuks the main form of transport.
But years of rapid growth has seen the same streets filled with vehicles in recent years, many of them brand new SUVs and luxury cars driven by the country's communist party elite. That wealth -- and the volunteer ambulances scooping victims up from the road -- are both a stark illustration of how public services in communist Laos are largely nascent or non-existent despite being one of Asia's fastest growing economies over the last decade. In the 1990s the country's rulers abandoned free healthcare altogether, meaning ordinary citizens must fend for themselves when they get ill.
- Minimal health spend - Since 2000, Laos' GDP has increased 12 times, reaching $12.3 billion in 2015. But the country currently has one of the world's lowest spends on healthcare. In recent years it has averaged just 0.5 percent of GDP according to the World Bank. In contrast, similarly impoverished Cambodia spends 1.3 percent while fellow communist nations Vietnam and Cuba spend 3.8 percent and 10.6 percent of GDP respectively.
The Health Ministry in Laos, a country where all foreign journalists must be accompanied by a government minder, declined an AFP interview but did issue a brief statement via email. In it they admitted there was a shortage of good healthcare. "The main problems for hospitals in Laos is the lack of qualified staff, equipment, coaching and financial resources," the statement said. But the ministry did not say whether there were any plans to increase healthcare spending or to tackle the issues in the coming years. Volunteer groups plug some of the gaps, but even they face shortages. At Vientiane Rescue bandages are washed and re-used, while several of their ambulances are crudely converted cars.
The service operates 24-hours a day, seven days a week and has also recently expanded into firefighting teams and specialists to counter drownings. Most of those volunteering are students who are sent to Thailand for first aid training. Mee Thevanh, 24, began volunteering after she was involved in a motorbike accident and had to make her own way to hospital. "After that I decided to become a volunteer. I spend most of my nights here," she said in a short break between emergencies. She admits that like many compatriots she used to regularly drink and drive. But no more. "And I've calmed down since," she said.
Laos. - National 10 Aug 2016
Infections with the mosquito-borne dengue virus have led to a reported 9 deaths from 2300 confirmed cases in Laos during the country's ongoing rainy season, the country's Ministry of Health confirmed to local media Wednesday [10 Aug 2016]. The southern Lao province of Champassak recorded the highest toll nationwide, with some 7 deaths recorded from more than 1000 reported cases
Washington, March 7, 2016 (AFP) - The United States issued a new travel warning for Laos on Monday after the latest shooting attacks against traffic on a road much used by international tourists. Last month, Washington had already warned travellers to avoid the southeast Asian country's Xaisomboun province after roadside attacks left three dead. Now the warning has been extended to Road 13, a major route between Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng, two of the country's most popular tourist destinations. It cites "the unpredictable nature of the violence and the lack of official information regarding possible motives or a Lao government response."
These mystery gun attacks have killed one and injured nine, the State Department added, stressing that violence is also continuing in Xaisomboun province. US embassy staff are banned from Road 13 from Kasi in Vientiane province to Phou Khoun junction in Luang Prabang province, 50 kilometers (31 miles) away. Landlocked communist Laos is usually isolated, but in September it will host a summit the leaders of China, Japan, the United States and the 10-strong Association of Southeast Asian Nations.