3rd Annual Disability Policy Dialogue Sheds Light on Disability Inclusive Social Protection in Lao PDR

The 3rd Annual Disability Policy Dialogue (ADPD) in Lao PDR was a momentous event, bringing together key stakeholders to address the challenges faced by persons with disabilities in the country. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Country Representative, Mr. Michael Ronning, and the Deputy General Director of the Department of Policy for Devotees, Persons with Disabilities and Older Persons, and Deputy Head of Secretariat of the National Committee for Persons with disabilities (NCPD), Mr. Sengaloun Luangraj, opened the event. The event aimed to address the challenges faced by persons with disabilities in Lao PDR and explore opportunities for promoting their inclusion in the country’s development.

The statistics presented during the event were alarming. Despite the 2015 national census data showing a 2.77% prevalence of disability in Lao PDR, the Brief Model Disability Survey conducted by World Health Organization (WHO) in 2019 revealed that around 23% of the adult population experience severe forms of disabilities. Even with existing national legislations and policy directions, persons with disabilities are still excluded from mainstream development in the country.

The theme of the 3rd ADPD in 2024 was “Disability Inclusive Social Protection.”  The event was organized by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and NCPD, in partnership with Humanity & Inclusion (HI) and other Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDS). Key development partners shared experiences and ideas to identify and address the barriers faced by persons with disabilities to fully and effectively participate in the socio-economic development of Lao PDR and to benefit from an inclusive social protection system on an equal basis with others.

Through the policy dialogue, it was recognized that enhanced collaboration and coordination among different stakeholders are essential to address the challenges and take tangible actions of disability inclusive social protection. The government plans to develop action plans in partnership with development partners to improve the social protection systems and services so persons with disabilities are not left behind.

This year’s ADPD was technically and financially supported by the USAID Okard Project. The event closed with a sense of hope and determination. Despite the challenges ahead, the commitment of all participants sparked optimism for the future of persons with disabilities in the country. The 3rd Annual Disability Policy Dialogue had set the stage for meaningful and lasting change, and everyone present was ready to play their part in making it a reality.


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