To roll out the SEALAB project in Lao PDR, we work with authorities from the National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology (NCLE) and the National Animal Health Laboratory (NAHL). The project is aligned with the National Strategic Plan for Health Laboratories 2013-2020 and the National Veterinary Laboratory Plan.

In the human health sector, the NCLE  is the national laboratory focal point and the secretariat for the National Laboratory Committee. It is also the national reference laboratory responsible for the development and implementation of the national policy, strategic plan and standards for laboratory services.

For animal health, the NAHL, under the Department of Livestock and Fisheries (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry), is the national technical reference center for animal disease diagnosis and livestock product quality testing. It is also responsible for human resource capacity development and research in relation to animal health and zoonosis.

The health care system in Lao PDR is organized into five tiers with 1,069 health centers, 135 district, 17 provincial, regional and 10 central hospitals. The national health laboratory network structure has been established accordingly, with the NCLE acting as the central coordinating authority.

The laboratory network also includes reference laboratories within the health sector (NCLE, Lao-Oxford-Mahosot Wellcome Trust Research Unit, Center for Infectiology Lao-Christophe Merieux, Institute Pasteur Lao, Center for Malaria, Parasitology and Entomology, National Tuberculosis Center, Dermatology Center and central, regional, provincial and district hospitals), in addition to the blood transfusion center and central police and military hospitals.

For the veterinary laboratory system, only NAHL is currently operational for testing; provincial basic laboratories only conduct necropsies and collect specimens to be sent to the central laboratory. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry plans to improve the capacity of provincial level to perform certain diagnostic tests.

The government of Lao PDR is currently implementing the Health Sector Reform Strategy and Framework 2021-2025, which sets universal health coverage as a clear objective.

The Ministry of Health is responsible for providing quality laboratory services that are accessible, accurate, affordable, timely and safe.

Proper health services are be effectively delivered to the population covered by social protection. Health facilities are to be rationally distributed, adequately equipped and maintained and information systems are to be well established.

The National Strategic Plan for Health Laboratory 2013-2020 addresses the following priority areas:

  • National laboratory management and organization structure
  • National standards for instruction, tests, technical and equipment
  • Human resource management
  • Quality management system
  • Procurement and supplies management
  • Laboratory equipment and management
  • Laboratory information system management system
  • Safety and waste management
  • Laboratory finance