Tag: lfhc

Building a Healthier Future for Lao Children

Top 10 Achievements at LFHC

The last 12 months have been full of activity at Lao Friends Hospital for Children. Read below to learn about some of the most important achievements and developments your donations have made possible at LFHC in the last year.


INPATIENT NUMBERS INCREASE BY 250% IN 12 MONTHSThe increase in patient numbers has been driven by “word of mouth”, community demand and the expansion of services such as the neonatal unit and the Operating Theater. Outpatient attendances are also up by around 33% over this time. This substantial increase in activity demonstrates local confidence and acceptance of our hospital. Maintaining quality of service during this increase has been achieved by opening new beds, employing new Lao staff to manage these beds (4 more doctors and 4 more nurses) and increasing efficiency in many areas.


OPERATING THEATER PERFORMING 40-60 OPERATIONS PER MONTHAn international standard Operating Theater has been fully operational within LFHC since July 2016. It is run by a Lao Theater Manager and staffed with Lao nurse anesthetists and theater staff. There has been a considerable amount of training invested in these staff and they are currently supported by an Australian volunteer theater manager and International Anesthetist. Surgery is performed by Lao surgeons from the Luang Prabang Provincial Hospital with preoperative and postoperative care provided by LFHC staff. A true “shared care” model that contributes greatly to the care of children with complex surgical problems.


NEONATAL UNIT OPENED WITH 8 BEDSAn 8-bed neonatal unit was opened in October 2016. As the staff of LFHC had very little experience with dealing with neonates, months of training occurred before this unit could be opened. Neonatal nurses from Thailand conducted extensive training prior to its opening. Neonatal staff now attend high risk deliveries within the Provincial Hospital and bring neonates directly to this unit.

The continuing education of the neonatal nurses is provided by an experienced long term volunteer neonatal nurse.


STAFF LEADERSHIP TRAINING PROGRAM COMMENCEDIn recognition of the fact that to develop and mature a hospital not only requires excellent clinicians but also leaders and future executives, a staff leadership training program has been launched. Potential leaders in all areas of the hospital were identified, interviewed, given senior roles and commenced on the training program. This program involves both internal and external facilitators and prolonged mentorship.

The first session of a special training program delivered by Global Health Services Network was possible thanks to the donations of many volunteers and supporters through our ongoing crowdfunding campaign.


Pediatric trainees attend Lao Pediatric Society meeting

There are currently only 120 pediatricians in Laos. These are trained in Vientiane by the Lao Pediatric Society through the Lao Pediatric Residency Program. Last year one of our LFHC doctors, Dr. Dorkeo, was accepted into this program. She will train there for three years before returning to LFHC. This year another of our doctors will join her.

In addition, two pediatric trainees from the Lao Pediatric Residency Program will rotate to LFHC for 2 months to train with us. This exchange of trainees between LFHC and Vientiane will promote strong ties and establish LFHC as a center of pediatric training for the country. LFHC also sponsored two pediatric trainees to attend the Lao Pediatric Society meeting in Vientiane this year.


Thalassemia is a major problem in Northern Lao that until now has not had a focus within the health care system. Children with Thalassemia would become quite anemic, be inadequately transfused and consequently suffer debilitating effect of their disease. In conjunction with a hematologist in Vientiane we have opened a clinic especially for these children. This clinic offers regular care, specialized blood testing, an optimized transfusion regime, a chelation (iron removal) program, and, most importantly, support and education for the family of our patients.


In the next few months a developmental clinic will open for children with developmental problems. In preparation for this a developmental assessment area has been designed and equipped. All medical, nursing and physiotherapy staff have undergone specific training both in normal childhood development and screening tests for abnormal development. This clinic will offer multidisciplinary assessment and intervention for children with developmental problems with continuity of care and family support.


Improved radiologyTogether with our colleagues at RAD-AID the medical imaging capabilities of LFHC have improved enormously over 12 months. The number of imaging procedures has more than doubled. A number of RAD-AID volunteers have worked closely with our staff to improve their abilities both in plain film imaging and ultrasonography. A new Sonosite with Doppler capability has taken this to a new level.

The Provincial Hospital is currently installing a CT scanner which will be of enormous benefit to our patients. We are currently negotiating how we can assist with the operation of this unit and exploring how we can create an integrated Medical Imaging Department across the two hospitals that utilizes the expertise and equipment of both departments to the fullest extent.


CHILD LIFE INTRODUCEDEmploying and training a full time child life therapist has added a new dimension to LFHC’s aspiration to provide compassionate care at all times. Child life involvement with children on the wards, especially those who are undergoing surgical procedures, has seen a steady improvement in pain management and the reduction of anxiety in children. Child life as a discipline is not known in Lao so we have taken primary school teachers and trained them “on the job” with the help of international volunteers.



LFHC is a young hospital that has experienced enormous growth in a very short period. Many people from Luang Prabang, Lao PDR, and around the world have contributed to its growth and successes. The hospital is now entering a phase of consolidation, putting in place solid infrastructure, robust processes and well trained visionary people who will lead the hospital forward over the next 10 years. Achieving our aims of “treatment, education and prevention” requires “teamwork, leadership and dedication.”

These achievements would not be possible without you. Thank you for trusting Friends Without A Border and joining us in our mission to build a healthier future for Lao children!

Speech Therapy at Lao Friends Hospital for Children

Lao Friends Hospital for Children recently welcomed its first volunteer speech pathologist, Debbie Brady from the United States. Debbie is a certified speech pathologist in early childhood development and delay.

During her time at LFHC, Debbie has been working with Lah, our physiotherapist who works with children with physical and cognitive disorders. When a new patient comes in, Lah and Debbie collaborate on their assessment. Lah assesses the motor needs of the patient while Debbie assessed their speech ability to determine if there are any developmental speech delays.

Together they have created several new tools to help detect patients with speech impediments and how to improve their articulation. They introduced a picture communication board, a booklet for Lao sign language and began using a smartphone app introduced through World Education Laos’ TEAM project, a project funded by USAID which has made possible the physiotherapy department at LFHC. With the app, the patient only needs to touch the picture of the object or verb they are trying to communicate and the app will pronounce the word out for them. With these tools, patients and their families communicate more easily!

Hand signal cards were created in several local languages. “Ib zuag ntxhiv” means “one more” in Hmong, one of the ethnic minority languages in Laos.

It’s been a great learning experience for Lah who now has the foundation for understanding speech therapy and can assess future patients with speech disorders impediments. He can now assess patients from three different disciplines; occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech therapy!
Thank you for your work at LFHC, Debbie!

Lao Friends Hospital for Children Celebrates its Second Anniversary

Since opening its doors in 2015, Lao Friends Hospital for Children (LFHC) has treated over 25,000 patients from different areas of Northern Laos. On January 25th, the hospital welcomed over 80 guests to celebrate its second anniversary including Friends Without A Border’s Board members, supporters from the US and Europe, representatives from partner organizations, Lao ministry representatives and children from the local international preschool. There was much to celebrate this year with the opening of the neonatal unit, operating theater and the growing education program for our medical staff!

We began the anniversary with remarks from Dr. Simon Young (LFHC Executive Director), Kenro Izu (Founder and Honorary President), and representatives from Lao P.D.R.’s Ministry of Health and the Luang Prabang Provincial Hospital, all celebrating the success and progress of LFHC and the partnership we have built with one another. One of our speakers, Dr. Amphone, Director of the Luang Prabang Provincial Health Department, gave an encouraging speech highlighting the value of our mission stating that “all children have the right to be healthy. We must look after our children’s health because they are our nation’s future!”

“I will never forget the first day I met Kenro Izu”, Dr. Amphone said. “We talked about his idea of building and managing a project called Lao Friends Hospital for Children. That moment, I immediately knew that Lao children were going to receive a wonderful blessing of having access to world-class medical treatment.” Dr. Amphone shared his memories of LFHC’s Grand Opening, and highlighted the incredible progress made in these two years by the hospital and all its staff.

After the speeches the event was a carnival! We had a world-class juggling performance, which both children and adults enjoyed. Our child life therapy team set up play stations of games for children to become familiar with child-friendly medical equipment. Our nutritionist conducted a workshop for patient families on how to cook a simple nutritious porridge at home and all had a taste of the delicious dish. It was a day filled with laughter and smiles.

Margaret Wing, Pharmacist

Margaret travelled from Canada to volunteer at LFHC’s Pharmacy in summer of 2015.

When I made the decision to volunteer at Lao Friends Hospital for Children I knew I would get the opportunity to spend time in one of the most beautiful countries in South East Asia and learn about the challenges of providing healthcare to children in this area. What I didn’t expect to find was a group of the most wonderful and compassionate healthcare workers that I have ever met in my career. The concept of creating effective healthcare teams is discussed and debated extensively in developed countries but here in this little corner of the world in a small pediatric hospital fondly referred to by the staff as “Friends”; the concept of team is a reality.

The amazing group of healthcare professionals and support staff at Lao Friends Hospital for Children truly work together and depend upon each other to deliver compassionate care to many children in need day after day. Now at the end of my volunteer time I am very lucky to not just call the hospital “Friends”, but I am able to say the same of the team of people that work so very hard there every day.

Dr Saschveen (Saschy) Singh

Dr. Saschy volunteered at LFHC for 4 weeks from November to December 2015. She is a GP and Global Public Health doctor from Australia with a keen interest in child health and tropical medicine. She spent her time in Luang Prabang working across the outpatient, inpatient and emergency departments with the Lao staff (as well as riding her little bike around to the many temples in town and soaking up the serene atmosphere in the historical centre!).

I found out about the Lao Friends Hospital For Children a mere few months after it opened, when I was browsing child health development projects online. After reading about Friends without a Border’s incredible journey over the years with the Angkor Children’s Hospital, and what they planned to do at LFHC in Laos, I swear that my heart skipped a beat! I was instantly touched, and incredibly inspired by the goal they had set out to achieve. Next thing I knew, fast forward only a few months, and I was on a plane from Perth to Luang Prabang, and was soon riding a bicycle on the streets of the old-town, in awe of the beautifully lit temples in the evening, the sound of the gongs, and the mighty Mekong river beside me.

On my first day, before getting started in the outpatient department, I first met the wonderful team of Lao nurses, doctors, lab staff, radiographers, pharmacists and administration staff, as well as the expat team volunteers from all over the world who were there to guide the project and provide much needed educational opportunities within the hospital. I was so impressed by all the staff’s kindness & warmth, their positive attitudes, and their collective dedication to the cause.

The week that I arrived they were just about to open the Emergency Department, and there was a lot of training going on: resuscitation simulations, APLS skills and suturing workshops were all ‘on the go.’ It was great to be involved in some simulations and later see the local staff putting those essential skills into practice in the emergency room.

The medicine I encountered during my trip was thrilling to say the least! You never knew what was about to walk through the door. . . everything from swollen bellies from Ascaris worms and thalassemia in the outpatient department; to cases of acute dengue, TB, and osteomyelitis on the wards; to acute cardiac failure from severe thiamine deficiency (wet beri beri) in the emergency department; and some of the most distressing levels of severe acute malnutrition that I had personally seen.

Laos may seem worlds away from my usual practice as a city GP in Australia, however what I have seen the world over, from Senegal, to Bangladesh, to Peru, to Sydney, and now Laos… is that in order to live a full and healthy life, all children need access to the same fundamental things: safe water/sanitation, adequate nutrition, a roof over their heads, basic preventive health (including vaccines), education, and of course: love.

It really is unacceptable that in today’s day & age, with all our technological advances and wealth and progress, that there are so many children that have access to only 1 of those things: their parents love (which unfortunately is too often not enough to protect them from the cruelty of the environment they were born into).

With the language barriers (unfortunately my Lao skills are still in their infancy! and some families were from minority tribes with very different dialects) some parents maybe could not  express in words to our staff what they felt when their child received the care they needed at the hospital, free of cost & free of judgment, but you could certainly see their relief in their faces.

I spoke to many local people in town on my days off , who spoke so fondly of LFHC. Already the people have seen what a difference the hospital is making to their community. LFHC is not just about treating individual children, I can see that there is a very clear effect it will have on current and future public health in Laos. The Laotian people are dealing with difficult uncertain times as they are propelled into the future with technology, and through rapid development, which in fact has had many negative impacts on their communities (such as the Chinese Dam project that will devastate many villages that depend on the Nahm Ou river as their lifeline), however as an outsider I was really struck by the incredible resilience and resolve of the Laotian people, and I do believe that it is projects such as the LFHC that will empower the community, by ensuring the health and prosperity of their children.
I was really excited to arrive in Laos for the first time and to become involved in the early days of a long term project which represents such an incredibly important leap forward for child health in Laos. I am certainly looking forward to returning to Laos again, and of course to following LFHC’s remarkable journey in the coming years.

Dr. Ramona Sunderwirth, MD MPH FAAP FAWM

Lao Friends Hospital for Children embodies what we all strive for – a commitment to improve and maintain the health of children through sharing knowledge and developing lasting resources. It was my first visit to Laos, but certainly not the last. The Laotian people – the staff at the hospital, our patients’ parents posses a gentleness, a serene, inner strength and resolve that’s apparent even in difficult situations. Their generosity of spirit permeated the working days and nights in a way I’ve never experienced in all my years as a professional pediatrician, in the US and abroad.

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Winter Ghostkeeper, Child Life Therapist

I did learn a few words in Lao, mainly colours and numbers thanks to the card game UNO. UNO was a big hit with the older patients. There were many occasions we would rolled a couple of beds and a wheelchair together so a group of patients and staff could play together. I even caught a group of dads playing it together one day!

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Megan Lee, Nurse

As a nurse, I came to Laos because I wanted to give what little help I could to people who were less fortunate than I was. After my time here, I have learnt about how incredibly rewarding it is to give to people who are truly in need of your help. Some of the patients travel for eight hours, across rivers, hike miles and hitch on the back of cattle trucks to come to LFHC.

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Dr. Setthy Ung

With each life saved within moments from irreversible arrest, I have seen increasingly bright sparks in the eyes of the training doctors and nurses reflecting their rising level of confidence in their own abilities and most importantly a sense of hope for the future of their hospital, community and the children of Laos. As an emergency physician, to save a life with one's own two hands is one thing but to save the lives of many presently and potentially in the future through the hands of others you have trained, to me is a joy that cannot be surpassed. If you would like to share in this 'gift of empowerment' please join us at the LFHC.

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Shayna Campbell, Pharmacist

First, the model of care is that expatriate staff work one-to-one with a Lao staff member in all aspects of patient care. This means that the emphasis is placed on mutual learning and capacity building. The second factor is the hospital’s commitment to ongoing education. One hour per morning is dedicated to case presentations, audits and grand rounds. I believe these choices will provide the best opportunity for growth for all the staff and volunteers at the hospital.

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