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Health experts prepare to fortify points of entry to prevent spread of disease

Representatives of development partners and line departments of the Ministry of Health met yesterday in Vientiane to discuss point-of-entry preparedness to prevent the spread of disease in Laos.
The two-day meeting is taking place as Asean and Canada’s Global Partnership Programme (GPP) are working together to strengthen health security in the region.
GPP’s work has previously focused on capacity building such as laboratory and disease surveillance capacity, strengthening the surveillance network and multi-sectoral collaboration in Asean countries. This has now been extended to disease point of entry (POE) preparedness.
The workshop has been convened by the Department of Communicable Disease Control, Ministry of Health, and partners to establish a technical network and coordination mechanism and strengthen disease point-of-entry preparedness in Asean.
Other goals are to enhance understanding of disease risk assessment and identify practices to improve the capacity of POE health staff in the detection, investigation and control of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.
This would mainly concern staff working at international ports and airports.
The meeting is co-chaired by the Director General of the Communicable Disease Control Department, Dr Rattanaxay Phetsouvanh, and Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of Canada to Laos, Ms Lee-Anne Hermann.
The meeting recalled preparations during the Ebola virus outbreak in West African countries in 2014. The recent resurgence of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo is a reminder that this disease may show up again in endemic areas.
In this region many points of entry are transport hubs linking Asean with other regions.
This means emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases such as Ebola, Zika, HIV/Aids, new cases of tuberculosis, and avian influenza can spread unless Asean countries have proper surveillance systems in place to detect these public health threats.
 Under the International Health Regulation (IHR 2005), to minimise the risk of the international spread of disease through transportation, travel and trade, state parties are required to designate their international ports and airports.
It is a requirement under IHR 2005 that all member states have to comply with to ensure national capacity to detect, assess and report events and to respond promptly and effectively to public health risks and emergencies within their own countries and across borders.
Points of entry include not only screening and quarantine but also the provision of a safe environment for travellers using facilities, including potable water supplies, eating establishments, public washrooms and appropriate solid and liquid waste disposal services.
Laos is a land-connected country sharing borders with China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Given the interconnectivity of this region, and since Laos has direct and indirect flight connections with countries affected by disease outbreaks, it is considered a country at risk unless all International Health Regulation requirements, particularly concerning points of entry, are met.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update
May 25,

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