The People’s Republic of Laos, or Muang Lao, is a country in the heart of Indochinese Peninsula and is bordered by Myanmar, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. Laos is a landlocked country which lies between latitude 14oN and 23oN and longitude 100oE and 108oE. The landscapes consist of a thick forest and rugged mountains with the highest elevation of 2,818 meters above the sea level. Laos has an estimated population of 6.8 million dispersed across the country with a life expectancy of 64 and 67 in males and females respectively. 197 male and 158 female per 1000 people are at the risk of dying between the age of 15 and 60 years. Some of the leading causes of deaths in Laos include;
Influenza and Pneumonia
According to the World Health Organization, influenza and pneumonia claimed a total of 5250 lives representing 13% of the total deaths. Influenza and pneumonia were rated as the leading cause of death in Laos. Influenza and pneumonia are more prevalent in the country especially in the month of June or July due to the subtropical climate that covers most of the southern and south–eastern Asia. Pregnant women and children are at high risk of contracting Influenza and pneumonia in the country. Lack of access to vaccines and vaccination centers is a major cause of influenza and pneumonia related mortality in Laos.
Coronary Heart Disease
Deaths related to coronary heart disease reached 4,445 in Laos accounting for 11% of the total deaths. The number of deaths as a result of coronary heart disease ranks the country 41st highest worldwide. CHD is high among the urban Laotians due to the continued adoption of risky lifestyle like poor diet. Obesity among the population of Laos is also considered a risk factor for CHD. The high mortality is also attributed to the lack of proper healthcare in the country. Less than 20% of the people who complain of chest problems receive proper healthcare to diagnose and treat the disease.
The third leading cause of death in Laos is stroke, with 10% mortality rate. The prevalence and incidence of stroke are rarely recorded in the country due to a lack of awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease. Cigarette smoking is considered a major risk factor for stroke in Laos with smokers having twice the risk of stroke. The high number of smokers among the youths and adults especially of the male gender has led to a rise in the incidence of stroke in the country. Also, there are less than five neurosurgeons serving stroke patients in Laos meaning that most patients succumb before being attended to by the doctors.
Healthcare Facilities in Laos
Laos, just like most of the developing countries in Asia, face a lot of health challenges. The majority of health facilities and pharmacies are in the urban centers. Access to healthcare by the urban population is higher compared to the rural population who has to walk long distances to access a healthcare facility. The health facilities are very crowded and are not sufficiently equipped to meet the growing demand. An inadequate number of health personnel in the country are only making the health situation in the country worse.