Children To Receive Free Healthcare In 2017

Source: Vientiane Times

Children will receive free healthcare treatment at government hospitals this year according to a new government policy aiming to reduce the rate of mortality of children under five.

The policy known as the “Strategy and Action Plan for Integrated Service on Reproductive Maternal, Newborn and Child Health” focuses on pregnant women and their access to more healthcare services at hospitals and dispensaries across the country and also provides free-of-charge care to children, particularly newborns and children under five, heath officials have confirmed.

Director General of the Hygiene and Health Promotion Department under the Ministry of Health, Dr Phath Keungsaneth spoke to Vientiane Times by telephone on Friday on the importance of the new policy.

He said that the new policy aims to enable all children under five in all provinces across the country to enjoy better access to health services including free health checks and treatment at government hospitals and dispensaries, not only to underprivileged children.

The policy started in 2013 focusing on free treatment to only poor mothers and children in targeted provinces aiming to reduce the mortality of children under five including the promotion of access to better quality health services for poor mothers and children, a health authority said.

Dr Phath explained that the new policy for all children is designed to enhance the quality of healthcare services especially maternal and child health and to also boost health facility development.

The Ministry says it will continue to develop and improve the healthcare services provided by medical staff, including nurses and doctors, aimed at responding to the new government policy.

In the future, the Ministry hopes to promote continued health sector reform especially with regards to maternal and child health while continuing to strengthen health facilities.

According to the Lao Social Indicator Survey done in 2012, the death rate of birthing mothers was 357 out of every 100,000 births, the death rate of children under one year of age was 68 out of every 1,000 live births, and for children under five it was 79 out of every 1,000 live births.

The official (international) database showed the 2014 maternal mortality rate for Laos to be 220 deaths per 100,000 live births, with the maternal mortality rate for Xekong province to be 334 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015.

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