The Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos) is a small land-linked country of nearly 7 million people situated mostly to the east of the Mekong River, between Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, China and Myanmar. Until recently little medical research has been conducted there, resulting in little information to guide health policy in Laos or similar environments across Asia.

The Plain of Jars, Laos, looking North

In 2000, MORU began collaborating with Laos' main internal medicine hospital, Mahosot Hospital, in the capital city, Vientiane. Now a research collaboration known as the Lao-Oxford-Mahosot Hospital Wellcome Trust Research Unit (LOMWRU), our main objective is to conduct clinical research on diseases of public health importance, to contribute directly to health improvement in Laos and similar communities with little health information across Asia.

LOMWRU builds diagnostic, clinical and research capacity. We also, with the Worldwide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) conduct a diversity of research projects on medicine quality epidemiology, diagnostics, forensics, law and advocacy for this benighted field to be taken more seriously.

This work is designed to provide health workers, government and international organisations in Laos and elsewhere in Asia with key data that will allow them to make evidence-based decisions for individual patients and for health policy.

LOWMRU’s principal infectious disease research interests are the diagnosis, epidemiology and treatment of malaria, rickettsial infections, leptospirosis, melioidosis, community-acquired septicaemia, central nervous system infections and the diverse causes of acute fevers. We also work on medicine quality as a global problem and on infantile beriberi and diverse neglected poisonings.