Lao People's Democratic Republic

Lying inland of Cambodia and Vietnam, Lao PDR has a population of 6.7 million and is the only landlocked nation in Southeast Asia. Many of its citizens live in inaccessible areas which are also the poorest in the country. Lao’s poor health infrastructure is slowly improving.

Vaccination coverage has improved, tuberculosis levels have halved from 1990 levels, and the prevalence of HIV and AIDS remains low – 0.3 per cent in 2017. Life expectancy has steadily risen, reaching 64 for males and 67 for females in 2016.

Health challenges

According to the World Health Organization, the major health challenges still facing Lao PDR include:

  • anti-microbial resistance, which has become a major public health issue. The need for national plans to enable better detection and reporting of anti-microbial resistant pathogens in humans and animals is growing.
  • non-communicable diseases, which are rising, especially as tobacco and alcohol consumption increase.
  • environmental changes and pollution, which are impacting access to drinking water. Sanitation, especially in rural areas, remains a key issue.
  • sexually transmitted diseases (STI’s) such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea, which are common in sex workers.
  • maternal mortality rates, and child and infant mortality rates, remain high despite some recent improvements.

As of June 8 2020, Lao PDR had no active COVID-19 cases. 19 people in the country had COVID-19, but all of them have recovered.

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

  • Strengthen Emergency Obstetric Newborn Care (EmONC) training through a Master Train-the-Trainer Program

  • Understanding Pathways to Adolescent Pregnancy in Southeast Asia