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This country cooperation strategy (CCS) outlines how the World Health Organization (WHO) will work with the Lao People’s Democratic Republic over the next five years (2024–2028), supporting the implementation of the five-year health sector development plans and the Health Sector Reform Strategy 2021–2030 to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
The Lao People’s Democratic Republic experienced substantial economic growth in the 30 years prior to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, contributing to reduced poverty and significant progress toward the SDGs. However, the COVID-19 pandemic brought this development to a halt. It was anticipated that the COVID-19 recovery and the tremendous population growth in recent years would provide opportunities for a shift toward more sustainable and inclusive development in the years ahead. In 2023, however, the contrary was the case. Rural residents, including many ethnic minorities, continued to face marginalization because of limited access to education, health care and economic opportunities.
Despite the challenges of COVID-19 and other disease outbreaks, the country has made significant improvements in health. Nonetheless, progress has been uneven and not everyone has benefited from these achievements. In the mountainous region, many people lack access to quality health care because of the unequal distribution of well-trained health-care workers. Preventable deaths due to poor-quality health care for children and newborns, infants and mothers remain a concern, as do communicable diseases such as sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis. The increasing burden of noncommunicable diseases and the health impact of worsening climate change further heighten the need for strengthened and resilient health systems, which are at risk due to an underfunded health sector and weak economy.
This CCS aims to address remaining and future challenges as well as health needs while creating an impact that is sustainable. It identifies three strategic priorities and nine deliverables (Table 1) to support the attainment of the national vision of Health for all by all, as articulated in the 9th Health Sector Development Plan 2021–2025. It contributes to the country’s goals to achieve universal health coverage, graduate from least developed country status by 2026 and attain SDGs by 2030
The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste has the highest TB incidence rate in the South East Asian Region - 498 per 100,000, which is the seventh highest in the world. In Timor-Leste TB is the eighth most common cause of death.
The salient observations are as follows:
In 2018, 487 (12.5%) of the 3906 notified TB patients were tested for RR-TB and only 12 lab confirmed RR-TB patients were initiated on standard MDR-TB treatment of 20-months duration, (a 3-fold increase in RR-TB detection compared with 2017). This amounts to treatment coverage of only 17% of 72 estimated MDR/RR-TB among notified TB patients (3906) and 5% of 240 estimated incident MDR-TB patients as compared to 62% treatment coverage of 6300 incident drug sensitive TB patients estimated in TLS. The treatment success in the 2016 annual cohort of 6 MDR-TB patients has been reported at 83%. 80% of TB patients know their HIV Status with around 1% TB-HIV co-infection, 37/ 77 (48%) TB-HIV Co-infection Detected. Of the 387 PLHIV currently alive on ART, exact status on TB screening and testing is unknown. % of PLHIV newly enrolled in HIV care who received IPT is not known.
In 2018, the mortality rate for TB was 94 deaths per 100,000 people (1200 per annum) in TL with an increasing mortality trend (Figure 1), despite TB services being available for nearly two decades.
A survey of catastrophic costs due to TB (2016) highlights that 83% of TB patients are reported to be facing catastrophic costs due to the disease. This is the highest rate in the world
WHO has updated its guidelines for COVID-19 therapeutics, with revised recommendations for patients with non-severe COVID-19. This is the 13th update to these guidelines.
Updated risk rates for hospital admission in patients with non-severe COVID-19
The guidance includes updated risk rates for hospital admission in patients with non-severe COVID-19.
The current COVID-19 virus variants tend to cause less severe disease while immunity levels are higher due to vaccination, leading to lower risks of severe illness and death for most patients.
This update includes new baseline risk estimates for hospital admission in patients with non-severe COVID-19. The new ‘moderate risk’ category now includes people previously considered to be high risk including older people and/or those with chronic conditions, disabilities, and comorbidities of chronic disease. The updated risk estimates will assist healthcare professionals to identify individuals at high, moderate or low risk of hospital admission, and to tailor treatment according to WHO guidelines:
**High: **People who are immunosuppressed remain at higher risk if they contract COVID-19, with an estimated hospitalization rate of 6%.
**Moderate: **People over 65 years old, those with conditions like obesity, diabetes and/or chronic conditions including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, kidney or liver disease, cancer, people with disabilities and those with comorbidities of chronic disease are at moderate risk, with an estimated hospitalization rate of 3%.
Low: Those who are not in the high or moderate risk categories are at low risk of hospitalization (0.5%). Most people are low risk.
Review of COVID-19 treatments for people with non-severe COVID-19
WHO continues to strongly recommend nirmatrelvir-ritonavir (also known by its brand name ‘Paxlovid’) for people at high-risk and moderate risk of hospitalization. The recommendations state that nirmatrelvir-ritonavir is considered the best choice for most eligible patients, given its therapeutic benefits, ease of administration and fewer concerns about potential harms. Nirmatrelvir-ritonavir was first recommended by WHO in April 2022.
If nirmatrelvir-ritonavir is not available to patients at high-risk of hospitalization, WHO suggests the use of molnupiravir or remdesivir instead.
WHO suggests against the use of molnupiravir and remdesivir for patients at moderate risk, judging the potential harms to outweigh the limited benefits in patients at moderate risk of hospital admission.
For people at low risk of hospitalization, WHO does not recommend any antiviral therapy. Symptoms like fever and pain can continue to be managed with analgesics like paracetamol.
WHO also recommends against use of a new antiviral (VV116) for patients, except in clinical trials.
The update also includes a strong recommendation against the use of ivermectin for patients with non-severe COVID-19. WHO continues to advise that in patients with severe or critical COVID-19, ivermectin should only be used in clinical trials
This handbook offers a simple framework of action for actors in local government, and in particular, health leaders such as Civil Surgeons (CSs) and Upazila Health and Family Planning Officers (UHFPQOs), to take ownership and leadership to combat COVID-19 at each district and upazila respectively, with support and guidance from elected representatives and local administration, and through effective engagement of various segments of society including informal health care providers, religious leaders, journalists, police and law enforcement agencies, etc. The toolkit draws extensively from the experiences in Chapainawabganj, Savar and other areas and contains relevant best practises that have already proven effective in these places, which should be readily adaptable to various contexts.
It is important to note that while this framework has been developed in the context of COVID-19 and with related best practises, it is by no means limited to COVID-19 response. Indeed, the experience from Savar shows that the same approach has proven extremely effective in combating the dengue outbreak and the severe floods in 2020, and hence can be used to combat future public health emergencies in Bangladesh and other countries having similar contexts
Infection prevention and control (IPC) in a CTC/ CTU IPC are all practical measures taken in the healthcare facility to prevent harm caused by infections to patients, health workers and communities.
The main goal of IPC in the cholera response is to
• To reduce transmission of health care-associated infections of cholera and any other infectious disease
• To enhance the safety of staff, patients and visitors
• To enhance the ability of the organization/health care facility to respond to an outbreak
• To reduce the risk of the hospital (health care facility) itself amplifying the outbreak
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
WASH are all measures taken to guarantee environmental hygiene, safe water of all used within the health facility. It encompasses water, sanitation, waste management, cleaning within the health facility which in this case is CTU/C. A complete WASH package in the CTU/CTC reduces the risk of spread of Vibrio cholerae inside and outside the CTC/CTU.
The probability of spreading or acquiring cholera through a CTC/CTU can be highly reduced when proper IPC and WASH measures are respected, followed and monitored. These measures are, in principle, valid in CTC/CTUs and ORPs, although they need to be adapted to the specific characteristics of the facility concerned
Ebola disease and Marburg disease outbreaks continue to occur in Africa, with increased frequency. In addition to resulting in high mortality and morbidity, the outbreaks generate fear and mistrust about the response activities within the communities affected.
Infection prevention and control (IPC) is a key pillar in the outbreak response; adherence to IPC practices can prevent and control transmission of infections to health and care workers, patients and their family members.
During the 2014-2016 West African Ebola disease outbreak, there was an urgent need for rapid IPC guidance to help support ministries of health, health-care providers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). In response, WHO produced several documents related to the outbreak based on expert opinion, including IPC-specific documents and documents on clinical management that also referenced key IPC principles and practices. Since that time, many practices in the field have become institutionalized
WASH and Health working together: a ‘how-to’ guide for neglected tropical disease programmes (Second edition)
This toolkit provides step-by-step guidance to NTD programme managers and partners on how to engage and work collaboratively with the WASH community to improve delivery of water, sanitation and hygiene services to underserved population affected by many neglected tropical diseases. The toolkit draws on tools and practices used in the delivery of coordinated and integrated programmes for control, elimination and eradication of NTDs. This second edition include revisions and new tools based on experiences of using the toolkit in more than 20 countries
Based on scientific evidence, expert consensus and country experiences, the WHO core components for infection prevention and control (IPC) are the foundation for establishing or strengthening effective programmes at the national and facility level.
These new guidelines on core components of infection prevention and control (IPC) at the national and acute health care facility level will enhance the capacity of Member States to develop and implement effective technical and behaviour modifying interventions. They form a key part of WHO strategies to prevent current and future threats from infectious diseases such as Ebola, strengthen health service resilience, help combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and improve the overall quality of health care delivery. They are also intended to support countries in the development of their own national protocols for IPC and AMR action plans and to support health care facilities as they develop or strengthen their own approaches to IPC
ПРАКТИЧЕСКИЕ ШАГИ ПО ОБЕСПЕЧЕНИЮ ВСЕОБЩЕГО ДОСТУПА К КАЧЕСТВЕННОЙ ПОМОЩИ