Source: Vientiane Times
President Bounnhang Vorachit and his visiting Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping yesterday broke ground for the start of construction of modern facilities to replace Vientiane’s Mahosot Hospital.
The new hospital will be built, equipped and financed through a grant from China worth more than 751.6 billion kip (more than 600 million yuan). Construction is slated for completion in 2020.
The groundbreaking ceremony took place during a two-day state visit to Laos by President Xi, who is also General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. The visit ended yesterday.
The project comprises five buildings: a nine-storey building to accommodate patients, a five-storey and two four-storey buildings that will house medical departments, and a 400-seat conference room.
The new hospital, which will have 600 beds and a roof landing for a helicopter, will be built on the same site as the existing Mahosot Hospital in Sisattanak district.
Many of the existing facilities will be demolished to make way for the new facility.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, Chinese Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan said that when the hospital was operational it would be the largest in Laos and would have the most modern medical equipment in the country.
It would therefore improve the quality of healthcare provided, he added.
Also speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Health Dr Bounkong Syhavong said the hospital would accelerate the government’s efforts to raise Laos above least developed country status by 2020.
He said he highly valued China’s generous assistance, adding that the Party and government of China had given the Lao people an excellent gift.
Representing the Lao government, the minister promised that Laos would make the most effective use of the hospital.
The Chinese assistance comprises three components, the Deputy Director General of Mahosot Hospital Dr Phisith Phoutsavath told local media at the ceremony.
These comprise the construction of the hospital, the provision of modern medical equipment, and technical training for Lao doctors and other staff on the use of the new equipment.
“Once construction is complete and the new building is handed over, the Chinese side will send Chinese medical experts to help train Lao medical personnel over the next three years,” he said.
Dr Phisith said China’s assistance will boost the efforts of the Ministry of Health, which seeks to develop the hospital into a model facility that will provide good quality and satisfactory services.
The new facility will be built on 31,000 square metres, which is three-fifths of Mahosot’s total land area of more than 50,000 square metres.
The hospital’s two main buildings, which were built during French colonial rule, will not be demolished.
Other facilities are being prepared to provide regular healthcare services while the new hospital is being built, he said.
Mahosot Hospital was built in 1903 and has 450 beds.
Dr Phisith said the hospital has the potential to increase its capacity to 1,000 beds in the future, citing an estimate provided by Chinese experts.
After the groundbreaking ceremony, President Xi and his delegation laid a wreath at the Unknown Soldier Monument. He also called on Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and President of the National Assembly Mrs Pany Yathotou.
President Xi and his delegation flew back to China later in the day.