June 2020 – News from the Lao Friends Hospital for Children

The Lao Friends Hospital for Children (LFHC), opened in 2015, is the first of its kind in Laos; a hospital operated by and for the people of Laos. It was and is financed entirely from foundation and donation funds and is independent of, but in constant communication with, the Luang Prabang State Hospital. In the beginning of May, Friends Without A Border received a 4-star rating from an independent charity testing company (Charity Navigator) for the fifth time in a row, demonstrating its exemplary work.

We have already told you about the impressive developments of the neonatal station (see here) and their Department for the treatment of thalassemia (see here). During our visit in February of this year, we were thrilled with the progress of the Lao physician teaching program, that Moving Child initiated and is the sole sponsor. The teaching program at the LFHC consists of two essential pillars: patient education and the training of specialist staff. In particular, the sustainable concept of in-house teaching and training events has fascinated us from the start.

The main aim of the LFHC’s educational program is to strengthen the independence and autonomy of the Laotian doctors, but also of the nursing staff.

“We were enthusiastic about the motivation and commitment of everyone involved in this project. The independence that is being trained here and the sustainability of this project are exemplary and have deeply impressed us.”

Anna, Gertraud, Ella (Moving Child Team)

The teaching program is comprehensive and includes daily topic-related lectures and discussion groups, structured English lessons, and exchange with international experts. But what is most important is the emphasis on ‘training for trainers’: The medical staff is trained not only to practically apply the knowledge they have acquired, but above all to pass it on to a new generation of future doctors. The influence, and thus the dependence on international experts, is slowly diminishing and the independence of the Laotian staff is being promoted.

The current situation in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic

So far there have been 19 confirmed corona cases in Laos, three of them in Luang Prabang. Although the LFHC does not treat infected patients directly, the situation has a dramatic impact on the daily life in the hospital. The country borders were closed, and the international doctors and volunteers returned to their home countries. Since then, the work at the LFHC has been mastered with a lot of energy and dedication by the local Laotian doctors and nurses, who have been working around the clock for weeks. Of course, all fundraisers also had to be cancelled, which further worsened the difficult financial situation of Friends Without A Border and the LFHC.

Transportation between villages is only possible to a very limited extent. This has reduced the number of outpatients to around 50 a day, who usually arrive at the hospital in very advanced stages of the illness or even in critical condition. It is expected that poverty-related illnesses, such as malnutrition and infections, will occur even more frequently in the next few months. This makes the free treatments offered at the LFHC more important than ever.

But there is also good news! The country’s lockdown has complicated the work at the LFHC, but the teaching courses continue. Distance learning programs have been set up that allow Laotian doctors and nurses to work on selected topics from home. All doctors continue to receive two full days of training per month: one with a focus on evidence-based medicine (a virtual journal club) and the other with interactive case studies. The doctors are in constant, lively exchange with each other and, despite the adverse circumstances, continue their training to be able to offer the best possible treatments in the future.

We are impressed by the work and motivation of the LFHC team under such difficult and challenging conditions and are happy to report on the positive developments of the teaching program funded by Moving Child. We hope that it will get easier for them and all of us again soon, and thank all donors for their support. Every little bit helps the babies and children who receive treatment in this hospital that they could not get anywhere else. Thank you so much!

Your Moving Child Team

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