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DPM urges ongoing nutrition investment in local communities

Laos still needs to continue investing in nutrition at the local level to create an enabling environment in which communities can produce and access nutritious food for themselves.
While the Lao Social Indicator Survey (LSIS-II, 2017) reported stunting has decreased from 44 percent in LSIS-I to 33 percent, significant disparities remain across the 18 provinces because some nutrition projects still lack support.
Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Sonexay Siphandone gave the advice yesterday at the official launch of the Fourth National Nutrition Forum in Vientiane. The event was also attended by Minister of Health, Assoc. Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong, along with other involved parties.
Dr Sonexay said the support of nutrition in local communities supported social and behavioural change that promotes healthy practices and creates a robust and effective nutrition information management system. These were key elements for Laos to become a prosperous country with a healthy population. 

“Although the malnutrition situation has improved, investing in nutrition at local communities is still playing a critical role to meet the criteria for graduating from least developed country status,” he said.
The Deputy Prime Minister highlighted Laos’ commitment to enhancing efforts towards implementing the National Nutrition Strategy 2025 and the Plan of Action 2016-2020 as this is crucial to achieving the targets specified in the 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP).
High-level Government officials from different line ministries, including Health, Planning, and Investment, Education and Sports, Agriculture and Forestry, Lao mass organisations, development partners, civil society, business, and academia participated in the forum discussions and presentations.
UNICEF Representative to Laos, Mr Octavian Bivol said the data provided by the Lao Social Indicator Survey was extremely relevant to enable outreach to the most remote and poor, including the country’s broad range of ethnic groups.
To accelerate further advancement towards the 8th NSEDP and global nutrition targets, he said  “We must now take heed of the information generated by the analysis and use the findings to steer our decisions about which interventions to re-prioritise”, and to decide where and with whom to partner with and to define what additional investments are needed.
EU Ambassador to Laos, Mr Leo Faber said the prevalence of children under 5 years of age with stunted growth in Laos has significantly decreased from 44 percent in LSIS-I to 33 percent over a period of just five years, as reported by LSIS-II, 2017.
He said against this positive trend, however, the LSIS-II also reported less favourable outcomes. Firstly, significant disparities on stunting remain across the provinces with 8 out of 18 provinces still having very high levels of stunting (above 40 percent), secondly, an unexpected increase in the percentage of children under 5 years of age who suffer from wasting in 6 out of 18 provinces, and thirdly, significant issues with water quality most likely due to faecal contamination.   
Participants to the forum plan to show their commitment to improving nutrition programme implementation in Laos with the endorsement of an outcome statement which highlights the need to increase public financing for nutrition.

By Phetphoxay  Sengpaseuth
(Latest Update December 8, 2018)

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