The World Health Organization, or WHO, is helping the Lao government draft a plan to improve the lives of mothers and children in that communist country, which has one of the highest mother and child mortality rates both in Asia and in the world.
Recent survey results show the rates stand at 405 per 100,000 for mothers and 98 per 1,000 for children under five. Lack of proper health care and malnutrition are reportedly major causes, with defiencies in iodine, iron, and vitamins for 54% of all children under five.
Aiming to reduce those rates in half by 2012, The World Health Organization is assisting the Lao government in the development of adequate food supplies to increase nutrition and clean water sources, as well as expanding healthcare services to rural areas, where approximately 80% of the population live. Government statistics show there are three central, five regional, 13 provincial, and 127 town hospitals throughout Laos, with some 12,000 healthcare workers.
Only 65% of Lao people has access to clean water supplies, while only 45% has access to sanitary toilet facilities.
For its part, the Lao government has launched an immunization campaign to vaccinate all its children, with the aim to reduce the mortality rate.
Listen to our Laos Today report for more details.