Dr. Phonethipsavanh Nouanthong, born to be a scientist in a country with limited resources, and became a pioneer women biomedical researcher, fulfilling her dream. She worked for diagnostic and drug development for the 15 years in Thailand then started working at Lao Luxembourg Laboratory, Institut Pasteur du Laos (IPL) in 2013. Her work now focuses on vaccine-preventable infectious diseases, zoonotic diseases, and new viruses and viral variants. Preventive health care work remains challenging in Lao PDR due to factors such as insufficient vaccination coverage or declining immunity, as well as limitations in both diagnostic tools and therapeutic care. In addition, with respect to disease prevention and control, sentinel surveillance sites for vaccine preventable diseases, retraining of healthcare workers and enhancing laboratory capacity, particularly at a subnational level are recommended. At IPL, specific evidence-based research and policy briefs have been produced and shared with national authorities. Dr. Nouanthong always seeks further specific linkages of knowledge and evidences to provide strategical guidance to the national immunization program across the health care system. She actively inspires, teaches, and mentors her students and other researchers and creates more opportunity for education and research. Her work has been published in 21 peer review journals and presented in more than 50 oral presentations and posters. She serves as a Committee member and Editor for Lao Associated Medical Science and Editor for Lao Medical Journal.
Dr. Nouanthong also serves as a Core Member and Executive Secretary of National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG), Ministry of Health, Lao PDR to provide recommendations to national authorities and decision makers. She works closely with the chairs and collaboratively with groups of experts to produce guidelines and recommendations, including the recommendation to vaccinate girls age 10-14 years old nationwide in 2020 with human papilloma virus (HPV) to prevent cervical cancer. Moreover, she provides several technical consultations in a broader spectrum to improve immunization, mother and child health, infection control and quality of primary health care. She has synthesized ideas, technical resources and input from public, private and developing partners to find optimal strategies to overcome challenges not only to increase human capacity, but also to identify technical and financial resource gaps for public health, research and development.
Dr. Nouanthong received the Young Investigator Award from International Society Peritoneal Dialysis in 2012; the J. William Fulbright Foreign-HUBERT H. HUMPHREY Fellowship from the government of the United States of America in 2015; and Researcher Grant Award, LEARN “Lao Equity through policy Analysis and Research Networks” from the European Commission in 2018. Dr. Nouanthong remains engaged in life-long learning, adapting and identifying the gaps to work logistically and strategically for strengthening preventive health care in Lao PDR.