Lao PDR Inaugurates Landmark Counselling Facility for Children with Disabilities in Xiengkhouang
Collaboration between the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Welfare, and UNICEF establishes inaugural counseling room for families and children with disabilities, enhancing protective services for at-risk children.
Xiengkhouang, 19 June 2023 – The Xiengkhouang Provincial Health Department, under the supervision of the Ministry of Health and in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, with support from UNICEF, today unveiled a first-of-its-kind Counselling Room for Children with Disabilities and their Families. The facility is designed to provide essential services such as counselling, healthcare, assistive devices, and physical and mental therapy to children with disabilities and their families in Xiengkhouang and neighbouring provinces.
The launch was chaired by Dr. Thongphet Sithivanh, Director of the Medical Rehabilitation Center, Ministry of Health, Dr. Yea Yang, Deputy Director of Xiengkhouang Provincial Health Department, and Ms. Maryam Abdu, Officer in Charge Deputy Representative of UNICEF Lao PDR. More than 80 individuals attended the event, including representatives from concerned ministries, sectors, and Medical Rehabilitation centers from four provinces of Houaphanh, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay and Champasak.
"Xiengkhouang province has borne the brunt of war and continues to suffer from the high contamination levels of Unexploded Explosive Ordnance. Further compounding this issue are the impacts of climate change, disease epidemics, and the health of the population, including children with disabilities, which has placed the province under significant stress. Many people are still unable to access necessary services due to movement restrictions and various other challenges, especially those residing in rural and remote areas," stated Dr. Yea Yang, Deputy Director of Xiengkhouang Provincial Health Department. He also emphasised the importance of counseling services, which are free of charge, as an instrumental contribution towards the implementation of the fundamental rights of children.
The Medical Rehabilitation Centre in Xiengkhouang Province has a mandate of treating and rehabilitating disabled patients and provide assistive devices and prosthetics across areas such as Xiengkhouang, Houaphanh and districts of provinces bordering Xiengkhouang, including Borikhamxay, Xaysomboun and Luang Prabang provinces. The Counselling Room will significantly enhance access to these crucial services for children with disabilities and their families.
"The Medical Rehabilitation Centre in Xiengkhouang province has made a significant advancement in our commitment to individuals with disabilities. This is a pivotal part of our initiative to transition policies and enhance the quality of health services, in alignment with our policy of the "5 goods” comprising of good hospitality, cleanliness, comfortability, diagnosis, and treatment, which will be implemented in the centre of the province,” said Dr. Thongphet Sithivanh, Director of the Medical Rehabilitation Center, Ministry of Health. "The opening of the counseling room and the 061 166 hotline, which is a free medical consultation number, represents an outstanding effort to meet the needs of the community," he added.
In the past few years, the Lao Government has made tremendous efforts and commitment to improving the condition of people living with disabilities, including children. In connection with this, Lao PDR established the National Committee for Disabled Persons, adopted the Decree on Persons with Disabilities, and the Law on Persons with Disabilities, and developed a national policy on inclusive education, strategic plans, and national action plans on inclusive education.
“I congratulate the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare for their leadership in setting up this first-ever Counseling Room for Children with Disabilities and Their Families in Xiengkhouang Province,” said Ms. Maryam Abdu, Officer in Charge Deputy Representative of UNICEF Lao PDR. “This first-ever consultation room for children with disabilities and their families will contribute to ensuring that children with disabilities, including those in rural and remote areas, receive effective and appropriate protection, care, and support and will be a place to listen to their opinions on all matters that affect them and for them to participate in solving the problems they are facing.”
The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities issued concluding observations to the Lao PDR's initial report recommending to the State Party that all children with disabilities, including those in rural and remote areas, receive effective and appropriate protection, care and support, and are included in the community.
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For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.