Lao businesses join efforts to fight malnutrition
The European Union Delegation and World Food Programme hosted a business leaders networking cocktail night to establish the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Business Network at the country level in Laos.
Vice-Minister, Ministry of Health and Chair of the National Nutrition Committee, Assoc. Prof. Dr Phouthone Moungpak, European Union Ambassador to Laos, Leo Faber and WFP Country Director, Ms Sarah Gordon-Gibson, as well as almost 100 representatives from government line agencies, businesses, donors and other development agencies, civil society and academia attended the event held at the European Union Delegation in Vientiane last week.
SUN is a global movement to end malnutrition. The SUN Business Network (SBN) is one of the four global networks (along with the UN, Civil Society and Donor Networks) and aims to mobilise and intensify efforts from the business community in support of the SUN Movement.
Globally, there are 261 companies publicly committing to scaling up nutrition both through global platforms and the growth of national platforms.
Laos joined the SUN movement in 2011 and the Secretariat to the National Nutrition Committee is taking a leading role in bringing together the UN, civil society and donor networks.
The partners within the SUN movement recognise that Lao businesses also have a key role to play either directly or indirectly in reducing the high levels of malnutrition in the country.
A Lao-based SUN Business Network could potentially include a wide range of private sector businesses covering multiple stakeholders ranging from manufacturing, tourism and hotels, banking, mining, and any other sectors.
“The main purpose of this Senior Business Leaders Networking event is to have an informal exchange with senior business leaders on how Lao-based companies could do things differently by more actively joining the Government efforts to fight malnutrition based on each partner's added values and business interests. I sincerely hope that with Lao business joining the government efforts to fight malnutrition we can do it differently and better together,” said Mr Faber.
Based on their comparative advantages, Lao businesses can, for example, play a role in making food more nutritious, affordable and desirable through product and service innovations.
Businesses might also have leverage to improve quality in supply and value chains particularly in production, storage and packaging.
In addition to the food sector, other businesses can p romote healthy behaviours among their staff for example through appropriate nutrition communication, the creation of mother and child friendly working environments, supporting nutrition sensitive market based research and building nutrition related business capacity in terms of technology and knowledge transfer.
Despite steady economic growth over the last 15 years, the Lao PDR co ntin ues to have very high chronic malnutrition rates: nearly every second (50 percent) child under the age of five in the Lao PDR is chronically malnourished and every fifth (20 percent of) rural child is severely stunted. These rates are even higher in remote areas and among some ethnic groups.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update October 17, 2016)