Gov’t, UNICEF assess improvements on children’s lives in Laos

The Government of the Lao PDR, under the leadership of the Ministry of Planning and Investment, and UNICEF met on Dec 18 in Vientiane to assess progress towards improving children’s lives in the country.

Vice Minister of Planning and Investment Kikeo Chanthaboury, and UNICEF Representative Pia Britto chaired this Annual Programme Review Meeting which presented an opportunity to review programme achievements and share lessons for improving planning and better targeting in order to reach the most vulnerable children in remote and hard to reach areas.

“With support from UNICEF and related line ministries, there has been significant progress in health, nutrition, education, child protection, and evidence generation. We also would like to thank UNICEF for the strong support for COVID-19 prevention and control. However, there are still some areas where we need to work together to achieve better results for children. Despite the progress, there are disparities at provincial level which further require more investment to build local capacity and coordination for efficient and effective service delivery,” said Mr Chanthaboury.

The vice minister also highlighted the importance to increase the cost effectiveness and efficiency in delivering results for children through subnational planning, coordination, monitoring and budgeting; the need to target the most deprived children, particularly in remote areas; and the use of evidence for better targeting and planning.

UNICEF would also like to thank the Lao government for strong support in improving children’s lives in the country. “From the outset of the pandemic, UNICEF stepped in and supported the government’s response to the COVID-19 taking concrete action to strengthen its response, providing personal protective equipment (PPE), providing the population with messages on prevention and response, ensuring distance schooling for children to continue their learning path and promoting hygiene practices among others.”

“More than 17 cubic meters of essential supplies were provided to front line workers including surgical masks, gowns, aprons, caps, gloves, face-shields, coveralls and oxygen therapy equipment. Besides, UNICEF worked with the government’s COVID-19 taskforce to disseminate comprehensible messages on COVID-19 and essential health and nutrition information and about 10,000 USB sticks were used to disseminate 62 audio materials in Lao and ethnic languages addressing misinformation and strengthening risk communication.”

“A COVID-19 Education Response Plan was also prepared right at the outset with the Education sector being one of the first sectors across the country to have prepared a COVID-19 response plan. MoES has also been quick to adapt the global safe school guidelines and schools reopening framework to the Lao context. “

To ensure continuity of learning, UNICEF also worked with MoES and MICT in the production of My House, a new Early Childhood Development TV Series aimed at young children which integrates messages around COVID-19 prevention and control. 10 episodes have been broadcast so far and we are already planning a second season.

A total of 20 COVID-19 related TV spots and 22 radio spots were broadcast throughout the country in Lao and local languages as well as in sign language. In addition, we reached more than 8 million people on social media with prevention messages.

I would like to acknowledge the hard work of all the people involved in this Annual Review Meeting and in the development of the new country programme. My most sincere appreciation to the leadership of the government of the Lao PDR, particularly the Ministry of Planning and Investment, and its vice-minister Kikeo Chanthabouly.

Source: Lao News Agency