Hospitals in Laos for Travelers and Expats
Laos is a land of diverse cultures, rich traditions and history, and pristine beauty. Having a rustic appeal, Laos attracts numerous travelers from across the globe throughout the year. Tourists visit the country for its river islands in the South and the rolling mountains in the North.
Not many people have the health, stamina, or immunity level to hike mountains or trek through jungles crossing wet, dark caves. Accidents are also common during such adventures. Therefore, travelers and expats need to know how the medical system and hospital in Laos work. It will help you during an emergency. Here are a few essential pointers to keep in mind before traveling to the country.
Do Doctors Speak English in Laos
Yes, the French Medical Centre and a few other pharmacies in the capital city Vientiane have doctors and medical professionals fluent in French and English. Moreover, there are numerous pharmacies near the famous Morning Market with adequate medical staff. Hence, it’s unlikely you will face communication issues in the bigger cities.
Finding the Right Doctor at a Hospital in Laos
While doctors and healthcare professionals in the hospitals of Laos promptly tend to patients, there is no specific standard of care. The lack of a standardized protocol, poorly trained staff, and the absence of guidelines leave public hospitals in an appalling condition. Furthermore, hospitals and doctors often have different approaches towards most cases they come across every day. But the converse tactic is also valid. At times, doctors adopt the same method for treating patients with different diseases.
Types of Hospitals in Laos
Being one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia, the Laos government has struggled to provide comprehensive healthcare services to residents, visitors, and expats. Health issues and access to standard healthcare and other medical facilities vary depending upon where you are located.
Additionally, the lack of standard medical infrastructure often leads residents, travelers, and expats to travel to Thailand in the event of a medical emergency or for a disease-specific treatment. Despite the shortcomings of the infrastructural framework, Laos continues to be a tourist destination for visitors who want to enjoy the calm of nature. Although the healthcare system of Laos has fared well in terms of Millennium Development Goals (MDG), the country has a long way to go before its medical facilities come at par with those in other developed nations.
Difference between Public and Private Hospitals in Laos
Health issues and access to quality medical treatment vary significantly depending upon your location and how you plan your travel across Laos. Contracting tropical diseases is a common concern among travelers. But the chances of someone falling severely ill are rare. Public hospitals in Laos need to be upgraded to deal with modern-day diseases.
For people belonging to different economic groups, the Laos government has separate healthcare programs in place. It has the State Authority for Social Security (SASS) for civil servants, the Community-based Health Insurance (CBHI) for workers belonging to the informal sector, the Social Security Office (SSO) for employees belonging to public and private enterprises, free maternal and child health services in selected locations and Health Equity Funds (HEFs) for the destitute.
According to the World Health Organization, the current medical services and insurance policies provide coverage only to 20% of the entire population. The Ministry of Health is keen to change this and achieve universal health coverage by 2025. Although government initiatives are aimed at ensuring an urban-oriented health system, not much has been made in this regard so far. Similarly, efforts to build a robust primary healthcare system, run preventive healthcare programs, and extend sustenance of medical services to rural areas have failed. Consequently, this has triggered the expansion of private hospitals across the country. Currently, Laos is home to more than 17 private hospitals and more than 1,000 private clinics registered with the Ministry of Health.
Is Medical Care in Laos Free?
The Health Services Improvement Project (HSIP) in Laos has raised funds for over 750,000 services aimed at helping the vulnerable and the destitute get access to essential health, nutrition, and reproductive healthcare. Also, there are 424 healthcare facilities dedicated to improving the community that has been constructed and renovated, and over 3,350 health personnel trained to cater to the poor.
How Much Does a Hospital Visit Cost in Laos?
The cost per hospital stay and outpatient visit vary. The estimated cost of visiting a public hospital is different from that of going to a private hospital. On the other hand, hospital expenses may or may not include drugs and medication, diagnostic tests, accommodation, and food.
Finding the Right Hospital in Laos
Being one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia, Laos struggles to provide comprehensive healthcare services to its citizens and visitors alike. However, government initiatives have ensured that the healthcare infrastructure is comparable with Western countries.
Top-ranked Private Hospitals in Laos
Here are the top-ranking private hospitals in Laos.
Mittaphab (Friendship) Hospital
Address: Phontong Road, Ban Phonsavang, Vientiane, Laos
Tel: +856(0)21710005/ +856 (0) 21710006
Alliance International Medical Center
Address: Honda New Chip Xeng Centre on Souphanouvong Rd, Wattaiyai Thong, Sikhotttabong District, Vientiane Capital
Tel: +856(0)2055529711/ +856(0)2054613492.
Australian Embassy Clinic
Address: Km 4, Thadeua Road, Ban Watnak, P.O. Box 292, Vientiane
Centre Medical de L’ Ambassade de France
Address: Kouvieng Road, Ban Simuang, Vientiane
Tel: +856(0)21214150 / +856(0) 21215713
Emergency Tel (24 hours): +856(0)2056554794
Lao Asian Hospital
Address: Khamphengmeung Rd, Ban Donkoi, Sisattanak District, Vientiane
Tel: +856 (0)213303745
Address: Quai Fa Ngum, Ban KaoNyot, Sisattanak District, Vientiane
Tel: +856 (0)21214018 / +856 (0)21214024
Although the list mentioned above will serve to help you classify the best hospitals, it is prudent for you also to obtain international health insurance. The most popular insurance plans offered in the country by global insurance companies are Cigna and Allianz International. Contact Expat Financial for a discussion.