CHINA-UNDP Triangular Cooperation Response to COVID-19 in the Asia and the Pacific Region

Summary:

As Lao PDR faced serious shortages and price fluctuations of medical supplies during the pandemic of COVID-19 as the country is fully dependent on imports. The pandemic also highlighted the critical need for quality control of these products in the market. This project will develop the capacity of a state-owned factory for the first large-scale domestic production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) through material and technical support. The project also aims at establishing a quality management system through the development of standards and guidelines, as well as capacity development activities.

Background:

Lao PDR faced serious shortages and price fluctuations of medical supplies during the pandemic of COVID-19, as the country is wholly dependent on imports. The critical need for supply and quality control of the medical products in the market has appeared as one of the challenges for sustainable socio-economic development in Laos. To adapt to this situation, the Government of Lao PDR has the ambition to capture this opportunity to promote the high-quality local production capacity of PPE and improve the quality assurance of the items available in the market.

In addition, the quality of imported and domestically produced medical devices and supplies in the market vary significantly due to the limited regulation and surveillance capacity. The government acknowledges the critical need to enhance its regulatory capacity by developing a PPE Manufacture Establishment Guidelines, National Medical Device Registration Regulations, and PPE Inspection Guidelines and tools.

To tackle the adverse impacts of the pandemic, UNDP Lao PDR has supported the Government of Lao PDR with a comprehensive portfolio to respond to COVID-19 directly. In this context, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Health, UNDP Lao PDR initiated this project by providing financial and technical support to enhance the domestic production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and a quality management system for PPE production and better market access.

Objectives:

The objective of this project is to enhance local PPE production and supply capacity in Lao PDR and to ensure the quality of PPE for COVID-19 and other future pandemics.

  • Developing a National PPE Manufacturer Establishment Guidelines based on the ISO QA system to enable local PPE manufacturers to establish high-quality PPE production lines
  • Enhancing the production capacity of selected PPE items at the State Enterprise Pharmaceutical Factory through procurement of production lines and technical support
  • Establishing a quality management system to ensure the quality of medical devices and supplies available in the markets in Lao PDR
  • Developing a set of instrumental documents to manage the PPE market efficiently and to refine relevant requirements for manufacturers applying for the appropriate licenses to produce PPE

Project Outcome:

1. Enhanced local PPE production capacity and quality management system

2. Strengthened market access and management system for PPE products

3. Improved communication and project management of the project at the national level

GESI (Gender Equality & Social Inclusion):

One of the targeted beneficiary groups for this project is frontline health workers, the majority of whom are women. In Lao PDR, many hospitals have been facing a serious shortage of PPE products due to the unpredictable supply and price fluctuation of imported items. In addition, due to the limited number of hospital beds available in the country and border closures, many of the COVID-19 patients are treated and in quarantine at home. Caretakers of these patients at home are predominantly women. The increased protection of these professional and non-professional caretakers is an urgent gender issue. Furthermore, the project is expected to benefit the factory workers by providing them with income opportunities, who are also predominantly women.

Project details:

  • Status: Ongoing
  • Start Date: February 2022
  • End Date:¬† August 2023
  • Project Office: UNDP in Lao PDR
  • Focus Area: Resilience, Health, Medical supply production
  • Collaborating Partners:¬†Ministry of Health: Food and Drug Department