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The government of Laos is working to meet the threat of the current H1N1 influenza pandemic and the United States is assisting that effort. At a ceremony in September marking the turnover of laboratory equipment to the Lao Ministry of Health, Vice Minister Dr. Eksavang Vongvichit expressed his appreciation to U.S. Ambassador to Laos Ravic Huso and to Dr. Dong Il Ahn, Country Representative of the World Health Organization for the contribution of vitally needed laboratory equipment.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, in collaboration with the World Health Organization are intensifying efforts to promote pandemic preparedness and counter the current influenza pandemic by providing new laboratory diagnostic capabilities at the National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology of the Lao Ministry of Health.
On September 17th, the CDC and the World Health Organization, or WHO, turned over to Laotian health authorities a Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction machine that will greatly improve the speed, quantity, and quality of laboratory testing. The contribution of this equipment, valued at over $60,000, is part of a more comprehensive effort that has included laboratory training, in Laos and the region, provision of materials and supplies, and guidance and technical expertise.
Since April 2009, this more comprehensive assistance for laboratory diagnostic support is valued at over $300,000. Additionally, the CDC and WHO collaboration has provided recent assistance in establishing "first time" testing for the detection of anthrax in human beings at the National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology.
The United States government, through agencies including the CDC, the United States Agency for International Development, and the United States Department of Defense, has assisted the Lao government in responding to pandemic threats since 2006 by helping develop capacity building measures valued at over $14 million. The U.S. recognizes the success of the Lao Ministry of Health in containing and mitigating pandemic threats, and will continue to strengthen national capacity through the partnership of the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.