6. September 2023

ICARS and the Health Ministry of Laos Officiate Their Partnership and Launch the First Project in the Country

Last week, ICARS and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR)’s Ministry of Health reached a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for further collaboration on the mitigation of AMR nationally and globally. During the visit, ICARS and the Health Ministry also formalised an outline of the project that ICARS will support in collaboration with the Lao Tropical and Public Health Institute.

Supporting the Implementation of Laos’ National Action Plan

In recent years, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has increased in Southeast Asia, where Lao PDR is situated, due to the overuse and misuse of antimicrobials in the public and private sectors. To address the specific causes of AMR in Laos and increase mitigation efforts regionally, ICARS engaged with the Laotian Ministry of Health and key stakeholders to support the implementation of their National Action Plan (NAP).

Lao PDR’s Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary, Dr Chanthanom Manithip, welcomed this new partnership and highlighted its significance in building capacity to mitigate AMR in the long term:

“This cooperation will not only benefit AMR mitigation in Lao PDR but will also benefit our research team, relevant regulators, health care providers and the private sector in gaining skills through training and experience sharing, contributing to the scale up of solutions in the future.”

Project Kick-off & Informal Site Visit

Apart from signing the MoU, the ceremony launched the first project of ICARS and the Laotian Ministry of Health, which focuses on the human health sector.
Overuse and misuse of antibiotics are frequently reported for obstetric conditions and procedures, with potential impacts for both the mother and the baby, as well as increased antibiotic resistance. The project will address the inappropriate antimicrobial use by women during and after pregnancy and among children under five years old hospitalised due to infectious diseases.

The project’s objectives encompass assessing the feasibility of Antimicrobial Stewardship (AMS) implementation across four hospitals, evaluating the cost-effectiveness of antibiotic use in obstetric and pediatric wards to guide policy recommendations, identifying factors influencing AMS intervention adoption, and ultimately providing policy insights for the sustainable expansion of the AMS program to promote appropriate antibiotic usage.

Taking on the ICARS approach, the project will engage Lao experts in antibiotic stewardship, infection prevention and control, community engagement and economic evaluations with the leadership of the Lao Tropical and Public Health Institute.

During the trip to Vientiane, the ICARS delegation visited the Mother and Newborn Hospital, one of the project’s participating hospitals, and met the local stakeholders and partners who will collaborate with ICARS throughout the project.

“The fact that we are now launching our first project is certainly a testament to the commitment of all individuals involved in this initiative. It is so nice to be able to finally meet in person and see first-hand the places where our joint work will take place.”

Helle Engslund Krarup, Director of Operations at ICARS.