“New instruments and diagnostic tests enable us to test patients for many infectious diseases, such as dengue fever, typhus fever and severe diarrhoea. We are also able to test for antimicrobial resistance. All this helps us prescribe patients appropriate medicines,” says Doctor Vatsana Sopraseuth, head of the hospital laboratory in Savannakhet in Laos.
Southeast Asia is one of the fastest growing economic regions in the world. A growing economy increases the mobility of goods and people. The downside of increased mobility is that infectious diseases travel with people: in Laos, for example, a record number of people were infected with dengue fever in 2013.
Reducing the risk of infectious diseases requires systems that identify the diseases quickly and prevent their spreading. Health laboratories in Laos are now better prepared to prevent infectious diseases, thanks to support from the EU in 2011–2016. Nearly 3,500 decision-makers and laboratory technicians were trained to identify infectious diseases and prevent their spreading. Finland funded the work through the EU.
Photo: European Union Delegation to Laos, graphics: Juho Hiilivirta