The World Health Organisation WHO in Laos is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its presence in the country. The Lao Health Minister Professor Dr Eksavang Vongvichit said the WHO is one of the most important development partners contributing to health sector development in Laos, working closely with the Ministry of Health.

A joint reception was organised with the Ministry of Health on Friday, attended by the Lao Health Minister Professor Dr Eksavang Vongvichit and WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Dr Shin Young Soo who stated at the gathering that, The WHO has come a long way in Laos. This is an important milestone for us. While much has been achieved in the past years, we face new challenges brought about by economic developments and global health trends.

Prof. Dr Eksavang said, the Ministry of Health wants to continue the cooperation, working closely with the WHO and other development partners to achieve these goals. He said adding, “We are facing a high risk of not meeting the MDGs, especially MDG 1 regarding malnutrition and MDG5 concerning maternal mortality rate reduction. The ministry believes that health reform must be implemented to overcome these challenges.”

Four key strategic priorities define WHO’s work in the country. The first calls for better access to primary healthcare and reducing health inequalities by strengthening the health system and improving aid effectiveness.

More than 200 guests from government line ministries, ambassadors of foreign missions and embassies in Laos and the heads of United Nations agencies gathered for the celebration.

LNTV Lao News, broadcast on 1/04/2013