The United States Ambassador to Lao PDR, Karen Brevard Stewart, signed an agreement for $1.4 million with Dr Thongchanh Thepsomphou, Chairman of COPE and Director of the National Rehabilitation Center (Ministry of Health) to provide improved orthotic services for people with disabilities during a ceremony on July 26, 2011 at the COPE Visitor Center at the National Rehabilitation Center in Vientiane.
The funds will support the development of the Lao Rehabilitation Program through the Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE).
COPE is a local organization founded in 1997 that works with the Lao government to develop capacity in the provision of rehabilitation services for disabled citizens.
The funding comes from the USAID Patrick Leahy War Victims Fund.
Combined with more than $427,000 in contributions from the NRC/COPE, the project will commit nearly $1.85 million to three major intervention areas: identification of appropriate orthotic components; improving current orthotic training and training materials; and building capacity of orthopedic workshops to increase production.
Over the span of 36 months, health clinicians based at National and Provincial Rehabilitation Centers will work with the COPE Orthotist Mentor to develop best practices for design and prescription of components; write treatment protocols for best practice approaches to patient services; and become more informed with better data from greater patient feedback and statistical references.
Since its creation in 1989, the Patrick Leahy War Victims Fund has been the foundation of USAID's efforts to respond to the needs of civilian victims of conflict in war-affected developing countries.
The Fund provides a dedicated source of financial and technical assistance for people living with disabilities, particularly those who have sustained mobility-related injuries from unexploded ordnance, antipersonnel landmines, and other direct and indirect causes of disability.
Laos, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and People's Republic of China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west. Its population was estimated to be 6.8 million in 2009.
Male life expectancy at birth was at 63.2 and female life expectancy was at 65.9 in 2007. Healthy life expectancy was at 54 in 2006. In 2006, two fifths of the population were not using an improved water resource. Government expenditure on health is at about 4 % of the GDP. Its amount was at US$ 18 (PPP) in 2006.