In Visit to Lao PDR, Secretary-General Notes Country Progress and the Needs of Youth

In Visit to Lao PDR, Secretary-General Notes Country Progress and the Needs of Youth
Secretary - General visits Vientiane Youth Centre of Health and Development. Photo: UNFPA/Lao.
  • 16 April 2009

VIENTIANE, Lao PDR - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the Lao People’s Democratic Republic earlier this week, marking the first visit of a Secretary-General to the country in nearly 25 years. Mr. Ban spoke at a ceremony commemorating both the opening of the newly-established UN House in Vientiane and the launch of the mid-term Millennium Development Goals Progress Report.

Addressing an audience of dignitaries, government officials and members of the international community, the Secretary-General highlighted the clear progress the country has made in health, education and poverty eradication. He also underlined the challenges ahead, including the global financial crisis. “But I remain hopeful,” he said “The Government is committed to achieving the MDGs by 2015, and to the equally important goal of graduating from the list of least developed countries by 2020.”

The Secretary-General also highlighted youth issues. In a statement at a state luncheon, he stressed the importance of addressing the needs of the country’s significant youth population, so that they can become healthy and productive adults. To show added support for youth issues, he then paid a visit to the Vientiane Youth Centre of Health and Development. The Centre is part of a landmark reproductive health initiative for youth established in 2001 through the European Union and UNFP- supported Reproductive Health Initiative for Youth in Asia programme.

There he interacted with peer educators, youth clinic service providers, and hotline counselors. In an interview with the Centre’s Youth Radio station, Mr. Ban emphasized the importance of information and counselling services for young people and the prevention of reproductive health illnesses, as well as support when problems do arise. He urged the government, communities and citizens of Laos to work together to safeguard the future of young people.

A consortium of UN agencies (UNFPA, UNICEF), Oxfam Novib (Netherlands) and Japanese Embassy now support the Centre, which provides much-needed reproductive health information through peer education, youth radio and youth magazines, confidential counselling and clinic services. The Center will soon open gender-specific reproductive health clinics so that clients can see either male or female clinicians.

-reported by Mieko Yabuta

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