The Lao government has reaffirmed its commitment to immediately and urgently scale up priority nutrition interventions to eliminate malnutrition in the country.
The commitment was made by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Somdy Douangdy at the 2nd National Nutrition Forum in Vientiane on Nov 17.
The forum was organized by the Secretariat of the National Nutrition Committee with support of the European Union and UNCIEF and aimed to take stock of progress made implementing the National Nutrition Policy and Action Plan and highlight key priorities for 2017 and beyond.
High level officials from the government cabinet, the Ministries of Planning and Investment, Health, Education and Sports, Agriculture and Forestry, and mass organisations participated in the National Nutrition Forum.
Representatives from development partners and civil society organisations also provided statements reaffirming their support to filling identified gaps in resources and capacities.
The participants reiterated that a coordinated and multi-sectoral approach is needed at the provincial level to support district and community level implementation. Taking action to the ‘ground’ is essential to successfully scale up nutrition actions and eliminate malnutrition among children and women in the Lao PDR.
“I would like to reiterate the sentiments of the first National Nutrition Forum by saying that multi-sectoral coordination and the government’s convergent approach is not only essential for the successful implementation of the National Nutrition Strategy and Plan of Action, it is essential to achieve national and international targets for nutrition,” stated the deputy prime minister.
According to new data on the levels of malnutrition in the Lao PDR, there has been some improvement. The most recent survey data shows a reduction in stunting among children under the age of five from 44% in 2011 to 36% in 2015.
Minister of Health Dr Bounkong Sihavong was clear to point out that, “Whilst this reduction is cause for pride and celebration, we must not forget that some children living in urban areas, in villages with road access, and in some provinces have levels of stunting that meet the WHO criteria for being a serious public health problem.”
“We need to take action to reach national coverage of proven measures that effectively help eliminate stunting,” added the minister.
Source: Lao News Agency