LUANG PRABANG – Lao PDR Vice Minister of Health Dr Inlavanh Keobounphan and the Luxembourg Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Marc Franck along with Luang Prabang Vice Governor Bouathong Phaengsavanh and Provincial Hospital Director Dr Bounthiem Siphada cut the ribbon to open Luang Prabang’s new Hospital Maintenance Workshop on 28 February.
The workshop, located at the provincial hospital, plays a key role in the Provincial Health Technology Service, a critical component of the Ministry of Health’s National Policy on Healthcare Technology Management.
Vice Minister Keobounphan thanked the Luxembourg government for its ongoing support for Laos’ health sector.
The construction of this workshop is very important for upgrading the quality of healthcare service in the public health sector, especially in upgrading the quality of medical equipment maintenance service.
Mr Franck noted that the warm welcome from some 100 guests, including a dozen dignitaries, reflects the excellent working cooperation between the two governments over many years.
“This handing-over ceremony for the workshop is very important as it will improve medical equipment maintenance and services for the Luang Prabang people with support from the Ministry of Health,” he said.
Mr Franck stressed, “The efficiency of the workshop depends on all parties playing their respective roles in order to run an effective program.”
With support from Lux-Development’s Project LAO/017 Health Sector Support Program (HSSP), the 240-sqm, 70,000 EUR workshop comprises specialty rooms for electrical and plumbing repairs, carpentry, welding, and spare parts, as well as an electronics room for mending medical equipment.
According to Lux-Development Health Technology Advisor Laurent Mangenot, an additional 66,000 EUR went into maintenance tools, measuring instruments, specialized equipment, and a mobile maintenance vehicle to service district hospitals and health centres in Luang Prabang and other northern provinces.
Mr Mangenot explained, “The engineer and technicians are responsible for conducting repairs, performing preventive maintenance, training those who use the medical equipment, and installing new infrastructure and equipment.” He added that the project invested 225,000 EUR over four years in establishing the Luang Prabang workshop.
Leading the workshop’s technical crew is engineer, Sengaloum Xayalath, who was a recipient of one of LuxDev)s scholarships. Mr Xayalath spent three years at Bangkok’s Rangsit University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Instrumentation.
“I am now capable of repairing high-tech medical equipment,” he said, while conducting a tour of a new workshop room with centrifuges, cardiac monitoring devices, and an ultra-sound machine being overhauled on purpose-built shop tables.
Mr Xayalath not only repairs medical apparatus, he trains hospital staff in Luang Prabang on how to use and maintain the equipment.
Vice Minister Keobounphan cautioned that though the Luang Prabang workshop is well-equipped and operated by skilled and knowledgeable maintenance personnel, similar projects, particularly the ongoing training and educating of engineers and technicians, must be expanded nationwide, “especially in Oudomxay, Xieng Khouang, and Champasak Provinces, which are facing hardships in providing…medical services.”
Besides Luang Prabang, Lux-Development’s HSSP is also currently active in Savannakhet, Bolikhamxay, Khammouane, and Vientiane Provinces.
Mr Mangenot pointed out that Lux-Development’s Health Sector Support Program has assisted in educating five Lao engineers, who graduated from Rangsit University with Bachelors of Science in Biomedical Instrumentation, and in training 20 technicians over the past four years.
Mr Franck emphasized that training is a large investment, and it must remain ongoing or the original investment will be considered wasteful and ineffective.
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