Generous Danes Help Save Lives In Laos

The dirt road is full of holes and the rainy season makes it hard to access the village of Kiew Maknao, more than a couple of hours drive from Luang Prabang, the historical capitol of Laos.
Nevertheless, despite the difficulties, the village is visited by three female health workers four times every year. They come to vaccinate the women and children and to inform the villagers about health and hygiene. This is all a part of a health programme which UNICEF has built up in cooperation with the authorities in Laos – and with financial help from Danish contributors.
Back in 2004, Frederiksberg Kommune in Denmark had the privilege of being named a so-called UNICEF-city. During that year, almost two million DKK was collected for the health project in Laos and since then, an additional four million DKK has come through the kindness of UNICEF Denmark’s many contributors, according to recent figures announced by UNICEF Denmark.
Such generosity goes a long way in a country like Laos.
Squeezed in between Thailand, Burma, China, Vietnam, and Cambodia, Laos is a small country with 5.8 million scattered inhabitants – 80 per cent of whom live in the country’s more than 10,000 small villages. Almost three quarters of the Laotians live on less than 2 US Dollars a day (equivalent to approx. 12.40 DKK), and a quarter of the population live on less than 1 US Dollar a day. Due to this extreme poverty, one out of nine children born in Laos never reaches the age of five.
But the UNICEF health programme is not only designed to protect young women and children from life-threatening diseases. It also sets out to teach the Laotians about health and hygiene, so that they themselves can help improve their living conditions and reduce the child mortality rate. It is a mounting challenge to vaccinate every single child in a country where one quarter of the population is more than 3 kilometers from the nearest doctor, and where 66 per cent have no access at all to a doctor.
But the Danish-funded UNICEF health programme is now completely up and running and covers all 142 districts in Laos.

For more information about the UNICEF health programme in Laos, go to www.unicef.dk

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