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Planners adopt multi-pronged approach to tackle child stunting

Stunting continues to pose a major challenge by not only affecting children’s height, but preventing proper brain development and can have a long-term impact on children’s ability to learn, work, and reach their full potential.
This was the keynote message delivered by Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Dr Kikeo Chanthaboury when addressing a meeting on the topic in Xieng Khuang province recently.
“The implications for our country are enormous and the situation requires urgent action by all the sectors involved,” Dr Kikeo said.

The meeting was attended by representatives from the ministry, the World Bank, central government, and Xieng Khuang and Huaphan provinces.
They discussed the potential for a multi-sectoral approach targeting the first 1,000 days of children’s lives - the most critical period of their development.
Xieng Khuang and Huaphan provinces have a high prevalence of malnutrition. Officials agreed on a comprehensive new approach to reducing stunting that will include targeting diversified food production and delivering better health-care, clean water and sanitation, as well as social safety net programmes.
Laos recognises stunting as a critical development issue as it affects 40 percent of children under the age of five. In contrast, neighbouring countries that once had comparative levels of malnutrition have significantly reduced rates of stunting in the last 20 years, according to the World Bank.
“Experience in reducing malnutrition in other countries has proven that success requires a coordinated multi-sector approach,” the World Bank Country Manager for Laos Jean-Christophe Carret said.
“The World Bank looks forward to supporting Laos in undertaking this new approach, under their National Nutrition Strategy, to tackle an important challenge,” he added.
The new approach, which will be supported by the World Bank under several projects, is backed by strong evidence from other countries that have successfully addressed chronic malnutrition. 
To ensure that the multiple causes of malnutrition are addressed, the World Bank will adjust ongoing projects and design new ones to provide long-term support to the same households and villages in target districts.
In addition to Xieng Khuang and Huaphan provinces, the programme will cover selected districts in Phongsaly and Oudomxay provinces.
The World Bank currently finances 18 projects in Laos. Investing in people, including through reducing malnutrition and improving access to health services as well as the quality of care provided, is one of the key areas of the World Bank’s Country Partnership Framework 2017-2021.


By Times Reporters
(Latest Update
February 28,
2018)


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