Healthcare standards in Laos need to be improved, country’s health minister says

Dental assistant Maribel Zaragoza volunteered to work on testing in Madera County. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

VIENTIANE, Feb 3, 2022, The Star. Health officials in Laos are being pushed to do a better job of increasing access to and enhancing the quality of the country’s public healthcare system, similar to how private hospitals and clinics operate, Thaiger reported.

Although Laos has been able to protect people’s right to healthcare in recent years, and most people now have access to better quality health services, the country’s health minister Dr Bounfeng Phoummalaysith told Vientiane Times last week that numerous challenges remain, adding that there are still lessons to be learnt regarding the improvement of healthcare quality to meet the standards of private hospitals in Laos and neighbouring countries.

He was referring to many people in Laos who continue to seek treatment in private clinics in neighbouring countries in the hope of receiving better care and stressed the need for officials to make it simpler for everyone to access inexpensive and effective health services as part of their entitlement to healthcare.

According to the minister, medical personnel around the country must work harder to meet five criteria for good service, which include patient admissions, sanitation and hygiene, diagnosis, equal access to treatment, and overall healthcare quality, with the purpose of increasing patient satisfaction and decreasing public complaints.

“So far, we have been able to fulfil only two of these criteria – patient admissions and cleanliness and hygiene”.

In Laos, private hospitals have been set up as alternative healthcare facilities for the wealthy, providing them with higher-quality medical services and discouraging them from seeking treatment across the border. The ministry has also responded by increasing medical staff capacity and installing new equipment, as well as continuing to strengthen healthcare facilities and improving service delivery through better-quality treatment and technological innovations.

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