VIENTIANE, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- Senior officials from Laos and other ASEAN member countries are meeting in the Lao capital Vientiane this week to discuss the improvement of health services for ethnic communities and vulnerable populations in the region.
The two-day regional workshop is identifying policies and strategies to improve health services for ethnic groups and vulnerable populations in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) technically and financially supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) via the Health Security Project, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Friday.
Lao Deputy Ministry of Health Bounfeng Phoummalaysith and 145 participants coming from the health sector of Greater Mekong Sub-region countries are attending the workshop.
During the meeting, participants are exploring policy frameworks and sharing best practice from GMS countries in service provision for ethnic communities and vulnerable populations.
"Ethnic communities in GMS countries have similarities in their customs, beliefs, religions, dialects and housing. Health conditions and situations in accessing health services may vary from country to country based on their respective socio-economic development," Bounfeng told the workshop.
Nevertheless, all ethnic groups in each country have equal rights to accessing and receiving health services, regardless of their locations of residences, religions and socio-economic status, he noted.
Strategies include the expansion of health service facilities to rural and hard-to-reach areas, rural development, production and distribution of health education materials in various ethnic groups' dialects, giving health education through various mass media, setting up outreach and mobile health service teams to reach every family, good coordination and cooperation with local administrations in tracing migrants and having accurate data on the number of family members, especially for immunisation activities.
According to the Lao ministry, health inequities are prevalent among disadvantaged population subgroups, including migrants, a group who commonly encounter many forms of disadvantage.
With increasing population mobility and displacement in our rapidly globalizing world, migrants warrant more attention if countries are to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.