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Malnutrition rate reduces in a Saravan's village

Malnutrition, in all its forms, includes undernutrition (wasting, stunting, underweight), inadequate vitamins or minerals, overweight, obesity, and resulting diet-related noncommunicable diseases.

Malnutrition issues have been reported throughout Laos, with the exception of the capital.

Huayhountay village, Lao-ngam district, Saravan province has a long history of children suffering from malnutrition, however government authorities at all levels have worked to solve malnutrition in this province. In addition, international organisations, especially Unicef, also continues to solve malnutrition issues in the village.

Ms Bouasavanh Khamphanthirath.

As the result, today the rate of children suffering from malnutrition in Huayhountay is gradually decreasing.

Head of the Huayhountay village, Mr Khamphone Onchanh, said all levels of government and international organisations had spent the past few years trying to solve the problem, and although there were many cases of malnutrition in the village, rates were gradually decreasing.

Village office authorities, including village women's union and health village volunteers, were actively encouraging parents to feed nutritious food daily. For this reason, solving malnutrition in Huayhountay is on the right track. So far, the village found that more than 80 percent of target children are breastfed. In addition, school age children also receive supplementary food every day, contributed by parents of students. This means that parents whose children attend primary school should have commitment to support meals for students. They change their contribution every week.

All target children also receive regular vaccinations. More than 60 percent of the population of 800 in Huayhountay village are now using latrines and more than 80 percent of them have access to clean water systems.

In addition, villagers today acknowledged the importance of nutritious meals. But stunting remains a challenge, with rates still high in the village.

Deputy Head of Onhnoy Healthcare Centre Ms Bouasavanh Khamphanthirath said Huayhoungtay was one of 15 villages to receive health services at the centre. However, she found the rate of malnutrition in the village was high. This was because expectant women did not take care of their health. They did not eat nutritious food when they were pregnant because they were poor.

In addition, they did not understand what nutrition meant.

But after receiving regular messages on the importance of nutrition from government authorities at all levels, villagers looked to change their behaviour by eating food under the Ministry of Health's advice. They start eating nutritious food from the beginning of pregnancy until their children are two years old.

“The number of pregnant woman receiving medical-checkups is also on the rise,” Ms Bouasavanh said. In 2015, there were only seven or eight pregnant women receiving medical checkups each month, but between 30 and 40 pregnant women received medical checkups in 2017.

In 2015, there were 22 underweight, decreasing to three children this year.

The rate of stunting in children increased to 20 children this year compared to 14 children last year. However, these stunting children are healthy, with stunting generated by their parents. Ms Bouasavanh said the rate of illness of mothers was also decreasing.

In addition to providing nutrition promotion, Ms Bouasavanh and village health volunteers also explain how villagers can maintain hygienic measures by eating only cooked fresh food, drinking boiled water and ensuring the household environment is clean.

“I want to thank the government and international organisations to promote nutrition campaign in my community, reducing malnutrition issues statistically,” she said.

A mother of one daughter, Ms Bouachin Souliya, said she realised the importance of fighting against malnutrition at a healthcare centre two years ago when she was pregnant and received a medical checkup there. She learned that she should not work hard during pregnancy.

In addition, she was advised to eat five food groups under the doctor's advice. The five food groups consisted of grains, vegetables, fruits, milk and meat. She also learned that one child must receive regular comprehensive vaccinations under the National Programme of Immunisation's scheme. In addition, one child must be exclusively breastfed from birth until six months of age.

“This is a good lesson because this can help me and my daughter be healthy,” Ms Bouachin said.


By Times Reporters
(Latest Update July 18, 2017)

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