Remembering Dr. Anonh Xeuatvongsa – Friend and PIVI Champion

PIVI lost one its founding members and a dear friend and colleague, Dr. Anonh Xeuatvongsa on October 26, 2020 after a battle with cancer. Born in Khammuan Province, Lao PDR in 1966, Dr. Anonh completed his Bachelor of Medical Sciences in Vientiane, Lao PDR, going on to receive a Master’s Degree of Tropical Health and a Doctorate in Medical Anthropology of Infectious Diseases in Australia. He brought this knowledge and skill back to his beloved home country and in 2006, where he was assigned to be the Vice Minister of Health’s assistant, and was promoted to Deputy Director of the Mother and Child Health Center (MCHC) and Manager of the National Immunization Program, in the Lao PDR Ministry of Health in 2007. In 2018, he was promoted to be the Director of the MCHC. Dr. Anonh had extensive experience and expertise in the primary health care service system in Laos and led a robust portfolio of research towards improving the health of all Laotian citizens. He was a Member of the Lao Medical Association, Member of Task Force Group for Development of the Mother and Child Health Service Package, Member of the National Regulatory Authority for the Polio Certification, and Member of Sector Wide Coordination Group in the Ministry of Health.

Dr. Anonh directed the use of influenza vaccines during the 2009-10 H1N1 pandemic, and with that experience was the first national EPI manager to collaborate with the CDC to use a donation of seasonal influenza vaccines provided by Walgreens in 2013. This collaboration made vaccine available to pregnant women, health workers and the elderly in Lao PDR, and was the start of a multiyear collaboration that became PIVI. Dr. Anonh’s vision for Laos impacted the trajectory of PIVI, and has resulted in more than four million people being vaccinated against influenza all over the world, and this legacy will continue to grow. Through his commitment to PIVI, he was the first Lao health professional to receive the prestigious International Partnering Award from US CDC in 2013.

We will remember Dr. Anonh as a tireless champion for improving the health of his fellow Laotians, and as a global leader in public health. His mentorship of the next generation of Lao public health leaders will help ensure that his impact will be felt for years to come. While we are grateful for his many accomplishments, we will remember him as a kind and generous friend, and a loving husband and father. He will be missed by all of us in the PIVI community.

Many thanks to Vieng Khanthamaly for contributing to this piece.

Dr. Anonh and colleague Josh Mott, US CDC, enjoy a meal after visiting influenza vaccination programs in December 2018.