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Document Abstract
Published: 2012

Impact of out-of-pocket expenditures on families and barriers to use of maternal and child health services in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic

More availability and affordability is required in maternal and child health services in Laos
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Limited progress has been made in the past decade in reducing the high levels of maternal and child deaths in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR). This paper highlights the fact that Laotian women and children are inadequately covered by basic healthcare services.

The paper finds that:
  • the use of medical services is very low in the country, compared with other countries in the region
  • admission costs are higher on average at public hospitals than at private clinics, indicating that the cost barriers to care in public services are quite high
  • thus, the high costs of obtaining medical treatment discourage poor families from taking their sick children for medical care
  • as a result, rich families and those living in urban areas are almost twice as likely as poor families and those living in the countryside to seek medical treatment

Nevertheless, the author clarifies that the share of out-of-pocket medical spending in total household spending is still not high because of the low use of healthcare services in the Lao PDR compared with other countries.

Conclusions are that:
  • to improve access to maternal and child health services and the outcomes of such services, the Lao PDR should focus on expanding the service delivery network in rural areas to give more families ready access to healthcare facilities
  • in addition, it should focus on reducing the costs of obtaining treatment at public facilities
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C. Anuranga; J. Chandrasiri; R. Wickramasinghe

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