Australia and Laos on May 12 announced that Australia will provide a grant of A$15.2 million (US$11.8 million) for the rollout of “safe and effective” Covid-19 vaccines in Laos.
Australia’s grant will provide about one million doses in addition to other critical support such as training health professionals to safely administer the vaccines and access to some of Australia’s leading health regulatory institutions, according to a press release from the Australian embassy in Vientiane.
This contribution will assist the Lao government to significantly increase the proportion of citizens that are to be safely vaccinated.
Vice-President Pany Yathotou on May 12 accepted the grant from Australian ambassador to Laos Paul Kelly, in the presence of senior ministry officials and invited guests.
Although Laos has avoided serious health impacts from the pandemic, widespread vaccination remains critical to prevent future outbreaks and rebuild social and economic activity in Laos and the region.
Ambassador Kelly said: “As a neighbour and good development partner of Laos, we are pleased to be able to support the people of Laos in a time of need. Ensuring Laos has access to safe and effective vaccines is a major and immediate priority for the Australian government.
“We recognise that no one is safe until everyone is safe. Our support will vaccinate hundreds of thousands of Lao people as well as support longer term health security. Australia has been a long-standing and trusted partner for Laos over the past 69 years.”
Laos highly values Australia’s assistance in various sectors including this vaccination support, Pany said.
This significant contribution will assist the government to ensure the successful rollout of safe and effective vaccines to the vulnerable and help Laos recover from the impact of the pandemic, she added.
While the majority of Australia’s support will be used to purchase vaccines, the package will also assist with the distribution and administration of vaccines as well as support a public information campaign to ensure that Lao people have access to clear information about vaccination, in Lao and ethnic minority languages, in partnership with the Lao government and concerned authorities.
Australia’s vaccine support package is in addition to the A$4.8 million of development assistance for the Covid-19 response that Australia is delivering.
Australia has also made a significant contribution to the multilateral COVAX facility, which will cover vaccination for more than 20 per cent of Laos for free, the embassy reported.
The current announcement builds on Australia’s A$80 million commitments to the COVAX Facility Advance Market Commitment, which is designed to help developing countries access Covid-19 vaccines to meet the needs of their highest risk populations.
Australia will support equitable access to safe and effective vaccines in Laos through multilateral and regional initiatives to finance, assess, deliver and monitor vaccines.
The support for vaccines is in addition to Australia’s ongoing development assistance for Laos’ Covid-19 response and economic recovery. Australia is committed to supporting Laos to have equitable access to safe and affordable vaccines.
VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK