Although the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) is comparatively small landlocked country with patterns of both in- and out-migration, its human migration situation has been poorly studied. This is despite all of the country’s 18 provinces sharing both official and unofficial border checkpoints with neighboring countries. Economic reforms in the last decade have seen a gradual increase in the promotion of foreign investment, and main towns and transportation networks have been expanding thus offering new opportunities for livelihoods and economic activities.
In the last decade, there has also been a significant reduction of reported malaria cases in Lao PDR and while this is an important prerequisite for eliminating malaria in the country, malaria outbreaks reported in the last four years suggest that population mobility, particularly in the south, is an important factor challenging current control efforts.
Bolder investment in social sector spending should be geared towards improving health service provision and utilization, ensuring equitable access to primary health care (including malaria) through efforts to achieve universal health coverage targets. This should be extended to populations that are mobile and migrants. The local government plays a critical role in supporting policy and enforcement issues related to private sector project development in the provinces. Cross-border initiatives with neighboring countries, especially in terms of data sharing, surveillance, and response, is essential. Mechanisms to engage the private sector, especially the informal private sector, needs to be explored within the context of existing regulations and laws. Existing and new interventions for outdoor transmission of malaria, especially in forest settings, for high-risk groups including short- and long-term forest workers and their families, mobile and migrant populations, as well as the military must be combined into integrated packages with innovative delivery mechanisms through social marketing approaches. This should happen at multiple points in the mobility pathway and involve the private sector rather than being fully reliant on the national malaria vertical program
This presentation based on the review of existing literature from abstracts and full texts, includes published, peer-reviewed English language literature sourced through PubMed and grey literature sources through Google and Google Scholar. The review included also case reports, sector reports, conference proceedings, research reports, epidemiology studies, qualitative studies, and census reports in both Lao and English languages. The authors used the search terms: malaria and mobile populations, malaria control program and elimination, health system performance, malaria outbreak, Lao PDR; and included articles published until June 2015.