Lao People's Democratic Republic

Health challenges

Lying inland of Cambodia and Vietnam, Lao PDR shares borders with these two countries, as well as with China, Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand. The relatively poor health infrastructure, cross-border disease transmission and inaccessible terrain in the poorest parts of the country pose significant challenges to effective health services delivery. The government’s health strategy aims to achieve equality in access to health care by 2020.

Major health challenges facing the country according to the World Health Organization include:

  • Communicable disease remains the most significant cause of morbidity and mortality in Lao PDR.

  • Widespread poverty, lack of proper sanitation and water supply, malnutrition and poor health awareness.

  • Increases in tobacco and alcohol-related illnesses, illicit drug use and related crimes.

  • Previously a low HIV prevalence country, rates are now increasing.

  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STI’s) such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea are common in sex workers.

  • High maternal mortality and relatively high child and infant mortality rates remain despite some recent improvements.

Thongly and baby Meena have benefitted from Burnet’s public health programs.

Burnet’s work

Since 1998, we have been involved in a range of public health projects focused on sexual health and HIV prevention, peer education and outreach with men who have sex with men (MSM), female sex workers and vulnerable communities living in close vicinity to infrastructure development sites such as national highways.

We have focused on service interventions aimed at reducing vulnerability to, and spread of, HIV infection and other STIs. This involved working with youth, soldiers and police, and with populations living and working near major infrastructure development sites. Work has also been completed promoting the adoption of safe sexual behaviour by men who exchange money for sex with women.

We work with Government staff, mass organisations, health workers, youth, truck drivers, commercial sex workers and their clients. We engage through direct implementation of public health interventions and through consultancies providing technical assistance in health program design, implementation and evaluation. In recent times, the scope of our work has narrowed to focus on the key public health issues of maternal and child health, and nutrition.

Contact Details

For more information about our work in Lao People's Democratic Republic , please contact:

Julie Tartaggia

Program Manager, Lao PDR and the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP)




Current Projects

  • Accelerating healthy agriculture and nutrition

  • Gender Counts

  • Host and parasite factors that predict Artemisinin Resistance reservoirs

  • Impact of declining transmission on immunity and risk of malaria rebound

  • Integrated solutions for healthy birth, growth, and development in Lao PDR

  • Optimal community-delivered malaria elimination models for the Greater Mekong Sub-region

  • Rapid review of maternal health recommendations related to the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Serological surveillance to identify mosquito exposure and malaria transmission

  • Sexual and reproductive health in Asia and the Pacific