Vientiane, Lao PDR -- On August 26, the United States Government, the Japanese Government, UNICEF Lao PDR handed over essential hygiene and recreational kits, including soap, bleach, detergent and painting tools for more than 1,000 children in residential care institutions and protection shelters to fight COVID-19. These supplies are provided with funding from the United States Government through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of Japan.
"If we want to succeed in fighting COVID-19, we must keep ourselves and the surroundings clean. With the hygiene and recreational kits provided today, children will be better protected and will be able to practice proper hygiene. Moreover, they will release stress," said Dr. Khampheng Saysompheng, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare during the event.
"We are proud to partner with and support the Government of Lao PDR's efforts to ensure the health and wellbeing of the people of Laos in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic," said US Ambassador, Haymond. "I commend the Government of Lao PDR on their leadership and hard-fought success to date in preventing further spread of the novel coronavirus."
The supplies will be distributed among seven residential care institutions run by the Government of Lao PDR in six provinces and two Civil Society Organisations' centres for survivors of violence and street children in Vientiane capital. Additional supplies will be provided to two Lao Women's Union Protection Centres for women and children in Vientiane capital and Luang Namtha province.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of many children in Lao PDR, including children without adequate parental care. It is critical to ensure that our support reaches these vulnerable children. Providing them with access to hygiene and psychosocial services can make a big difference in their lives," said Dr. Pia Britto, Representative of UNICEF Lao PDR.
Understanding that children living in residential care settings need additional help, since the onset of the pandemic, the Government of Lao PDR with support from UNICEF and USAID has conducted supply and capacity needs assessment in esidential care institutions and protection shelters in order to prioritize its support.
"On behalf of the People from Japan, I would like to reiterate our support to the Government of Lao PDR. The COVID-19 is a threat to all of us and the only way to fight against it is by joining hands. We cannot leave anyone behind, particularly not vulnerable children," said H.E. Keizo Takewaka, Ambassador of Japan to Lao PDR.
The United States, through USAID and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, has already provided more than $7.5 million to support the Government of Laos stop the spread of COVID-19. This includes the provision of laboratory and medical equipment, technical assistance, risk communication and training for thousands of frontline health workers throughout the Lao PDR. To date, the United States has invested more than $348 million total over the past 20 years to improve basic education, promote trade and investment, and strengthen the rule of law in Laos.