By Xayxana Leukai
The Ministry of Health has advised doctors and medical staff throughout the country to closely monitor the condition of anyone presenting with severe respiratory problems, after several people died of bird flu type A (H5N1 virus) in Cambodia last month.
The warning was issued earlier this month, aimed at encouraging health workers to prepare for and respond to a possible outbreak of the virus.
Deputy Minister of Health, Associate Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong, said the prevailing weather conditions favour an outbreak of the H5N1 flu virus on the continents of Africa, Asia and Europe.
He said the health minister has already advised the Vientiane Health Department and provincial health departments to closely monitor and repor t cases of patients who appear to have a serious respiratory problem when they visit a healthcare centre or hospital.
In addition, emergency response teams in the provinces are advised to ramp up efforts to combat the virus if they suspect that anyone has developed H5N1 type flu. They are also advised to take precautions against the virus at international border crossings nationwide.
Medical staff are advised to coordinate with agriculture and forestry departments to identify which villages and districts have identified cases of bird flu.
Health staff are also being asked to team up with information, culture and tourism officials to encourage people to follow the three basic principles of health hygiene – eating freshly cooked food, drinking clean boiled water, and keeping the home environment clean.
Additionally, health officials are suggesting that staff make plans to respond to a possible outbreak of the disease, ensuring that sufficient funding is available to tackle it. All suspected cases of the virus should be reported to the Communicable Diseases Department of the Ministry of Health through the disease surveillance system.
Anyone with a severe respiratory illness or bird flu should not be allowed to enter or exit Laos, in line with international health regulations.