Laos battles to reduce malnutrition
Laos needs to improve its health standards and take action against malnutrition with the long term aim of ending hunger in the face of the country's high rate of poverty.
An inception workshop on nutrient gap analysis held yesterday in Vientiane and attended by the Director General of the Hygiene and Health Promotion Department under the Ministry of Health, Dr Phath Keungsaneth, aimed to look at these issues.
Dr Phath said the government recognises that chronic malnutrition is a major challenge to providing a multi-sectoral solution to nutritional problems in collaboration with development partners. To this end, the National Nutrition Strategy for 2016-25 and the Plan of Action for 2016-2020 have been drawn up.
“The 22 priorities named in the strategy recognise the role of different sectors in improving the nutrition situation.
Through our sustained efforts and collaboration with UN agencies and development partners we were able to bring down the level of chronic malnutrition from 44 percent in 2012 to 36 percent in 2015, but to bring it down further to achieve the targets of the National Nutrition Strategy by 25 percent we fully recognise that all sectors will have to work together,” he added.
He further explained that the government considered nutrition a high priority which is reflected by its commitment to setting up multi-sectoral coordination mechanisms as well as allocating funding and advocacy to mobilise the international community and civil society.
The Provincial Nutrition Secretariat also has an important role to play in supporting budget plans for implementation, monitoring, and the funding mobilisation needed to support nutrition and coordination to reduce malnutrition in Laos, he added.
World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director and Representative in Laos, Ms Sarah Gordon-Gibson, who also attended yesterday's meeting, said “We need to improve to achieve tangible results. The cost of diet analysis is the first step in this direction.”
“We are also working with several development partners to establish a national social behaviour change communication strategy. I am excited as this analysis will also feed into the design of the upcoming national strategy.”
“I hope that with your support and my team's commitment, we can together move towards strengthening further the public sector analytical capacity for an evidenced-based programming and policy process,” she added.
By Phetphoxay Sengpaseuth
(Latest Update February 7, 2017)