Laos and the United States continue to expand their
cooperation in many fields, lately in the area of preventing the swine and avian influenzas outbreaks, as Lao authorities
reaffirm their commitment to continue to cooperate fully with the international
community in this field.
Last week, a team of medical experts from the United States' Pacific Command (PACOM) held a seminar in Vientiane, Laos, to provide knowledge and share their experiences in coping with the avian H5N1 and swine A-H1N1 influenzas outbreaks. Over 40 health officials participated in the 4-day workshop on disease surveillance, designed to improve the capacity and efficiency of Lao health experts in detecting, responding to and containing infectious diseases, as well as treating patients.
In addition, the US made a contribution to the funds for the
Information Coordination Center
on the spreading of viruses via a hotline to enable people across the country
to report suspected cases. By establishing such center, Lao authorities
continue to fully cooperate with foreign countries and international
organizations, as reasserted by Mr. Cheuang Sombounkhanh, Minister to the Prime
Minister's Office, who said that Lao officials will try to cooperate with the international
community in controlling and putting an end to the A H1N1 virus in a timely
manner. He added that the government has issued an urgent order for concerned
officials to take all the necessary measures to prevent the H1N1 outbreak, specifically monitoring all passengers arriving at different international
checkpoints across the country for symptoms of the disease.
Besides health matters, Lao and the US authorities also continue their cooperation in other areas such as international drug trafficking, unexploded ordnance (UXO) and recovery of the remains of Americans missing in actions (POW/MIA) in Laos during the Indochina War.
In the latest symbol of bilateral cooperation in the recovery of POW/MIAs, Lao authorities transferred five sets of remains to US officials last week, bringing the number of recovered and repatriated cases to 230, out of an estimated total of 570 cases, since the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command operations began in 1983. Officials of both governments say they will continue to work hard to investigate and solve the remaining 340 cases. Annual joint search-and-recovery operations are broken down into four phases, for a period of three months each.
Songrit Pongern reported from Bangkok on June 16, 2009. Listen to Songrit's report for more details in Lao. (English translation by Buasawan Simmala and Dara Baccam.)