- General

Partners Call for Strengthened Partnership on Nutrition to Accelerate Progress in the COVID-19 Era

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Planning and Investment Sonexay Siphandone, chaired on Feb 12 the 6th National Nutrition Forum, organised by the National Nutrition Committee, and called for concerted efforts to improve evidence-based planning and programming on nutrition to address the barriers that prevent people from accessing good nutrition.

“While the Lao PDR has made progress in the nutrition landscape by reducing stunting from 44 per cent in 2011 to 33 per cent in 2017, progress on wasting remains limited and the current COVID-19 pandemic poses significant challenges to nutrition in our country risking to undermine progress made so far. As we have entered the last decade of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) it is important to strengthen the partnership on nutrition, ensuring effectiveness through collaboration among partners and the Government. We need to ensure –Nutrition for all,” stated Mr Sonexay Siphandone.

The Nutrition Forum provided an opportunity to take stock of the implementation of the National Nutrition Strategy and Plan of Action, identify priorities to rally nutrition stakeholders for action, advocate for the prioritization of nutrition actions in the country, and call for novel ways to address the issues and improve nutrition programming at both national and sub-national levels.

“The government has shown great commitment to nutrition over the last years, and this annual nutrition forum chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister who is also the Convener of the National Nutrition Committee is a testament of that. Whilst recognizing the strong presence and support of development partners in nutrition, increased domestic funding through government resources is needed to ensure sustainability of nutrition actions in the Lao PDR. As the country graduates from Least Developed Country status, sustainable funding of nutrition should be prioritized,” said the European Union (EU) Ambassador to the Lao PDR Ina Marciulionyte.

The meeting brought together ministers and deputy ministers as well as director generals of key line ministries including health, education and agriculture at the national level; vice-governors and provincial directors of health, education and agriculture; development partners and other nutrition stakeholders.

“The United States is proud to be one the closest partners of the Lao PDR in health, and especially nutrition. Since 2006, we have supported hundreds of thousands of low-opportunity Lao children through a school feeding programme, funded and built the Lao National Institute of Nutrition, and we are about to launch a new 30-million dollar Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition programme,” Peter M. Haymond, US Ambassador to the Lao PDR, noted. “This year, we are celebrating the 5th anniversary of the US Lao Comprehensive Partnership. The United States is committed to help the Lao PDR to recover economically and prosper in the years ahead. We are proud of our efforts working side by side with the Lao government.”

During the meeting, participants exchanged views on the implementation of the National Nutrition Strategy and Plan of Action (NNSPA), drew some lessons from its Mid-Term Review which underscored some critical issues affecting the core of nutrition programming in the country, and provided recommendations for the development on the next 5-year National Plan of Action for Nutrition (NPAN).

In her remarks, Dr. Pia Rebello Britto called for renewed action on nutrition by all partners to consolidate the gains. “This calls for efficiency in planning and budgeting by ensuring that they are driven by evidence. In addition, we need to ensure effectiveness through synergy and collaboration for improved programming for nutrition across sectors and stronger nutrition coordination mechanisms at all levels,” she explained.

The role of innovation for improved access and coverage of nutrition interventions was also highlighted throughout the different remarks and by various speakers. Embracing technologies that are appropriate to the Lao context were also highlighted as tools to improve the quality and monitoring of nutrition services across sectors.

Source: Lao News Agency