More than 20,000 children under the age of five are expected to benefit from the National Nutrition Initiative Programme implemented by UNICEF Lao PDR in six targeted districts in Huaphan Province over the next five years.
The six districts to benefit from the nutritional programme include Ad, Xiengkhor, Sopbao, Viengxay, Xamneua and Hiem.
The programme will be implemented at each village of the six districts by UNICEF, in collaboration with Huaphan Provincial health authorities, health officials and village volunteers, according to Vilay Phoutthalath, Communication for Development Officer, UNICEF Lao PDR.
The programme will place its nutritional intervention on children who are in their first 1000 days of critical development.
The first 1,000 days of life – the time spanning roughly between conception and one’s second birthday – is a unique period of opportunity when the foundations of optimum health, growth, and neurodevelopment across one’s lifespan are established.
In developing countries, poverty and its attendant condition, malnutrition, weaken this foundation, leading to earlier mortality and significant morbidities such as poor health, and more insidiously, substantial loss of neurodevelopmental potential, according to UNICEF.
The number of children, age groups, and other detailed data are being collected for the purpose of microplanning.
Huaphanh is one of the ten priority provinces targeted by the nutrition initiative co-supported by the European Union, MMG Lane Xang Minerals Limited, and UNICEF-Australia.
The implementation of the programme over the next five years aims at improving the nutritional status of mothers, emphasising exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months, giving supplements to children aged more than 6 months, adding micronutrient powder to complementary foods for children aged 6 months up to two years, and promoting sanitation and hygiene.
More than 26% of the 20,000 children under the age of five in the six target districts suffer from malnutrition, according to Director General of Huaphan Provincial Health Department, Dr Vilaphone Phomvongsy.
Source: Lao News Agency