- General

Research findings clear path towards addressing malnutrition in Laos

The Government of the Lao PDR and development partners gathered today at the Fourth Annual Dissemination Meeting for the National Information Platforms for Nutrition (NIPN) to share new research findings that will help the Lao PDR address various nutrition-related challenges for children and women.

During the meeting, the Lao Statistics Bureau, the Development Research Institute and Training Centre and the Socio-economic Policy Research Institute of the Lao Academy of Social and Economic Sciences presented new research to nutrition stakeholders in the Lao PDR to help deepen their understanding about the deprivations in nutrition that Lao children continue to face and to facilitate discussion on how to address these challenges. More specifically, findings from the recent Provincial Household Survey 2022 targeting Bokeo, Huaphan, Phongsaly and Saravan provinces were shared.

The overarching aim of the National Information Platforms for Nutrition in the Lao PDR, which was launched back in 2018, is to build the country’s capacity to manage and analyse nutrition data from multiple sectors to track progress and nutrition investments in the country.

“Evidence-based interventions are key to effectively addressing malnutrition in the Lao PDR and the latest findings presented today will help inform policy-makers and those working in the field of nutrition to better plan, budget and monitor nutrition interventions as well as identify other innovative solutions to nutrition challenges,” said Dr. Sathabandith Insixiengmai, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment and Convener of the NIPN Advisory Committee.

Some of the key findings presented during the meeting revealed that there are still disparities in dietary diversity and meal frequency coverage among children under five years old in rural areas or from ethnic backgrounds in certain provinces.

Studies also highlighted the importance of promoting nutrition education among mothers to improve children’s feeding practices and subsequently their nutritional well-being, alongside the need to improve the diet quality in the country, especially in lowering the consumption of processed foods and sweets among school children.

In addition to these presentations, the second phase of the National Information Platforms for Nutrition was also launched at the meeting.

“The launch of phase two of the National Information Platforms for Nutrition is a new milestone for nutrition in the Lao PDR. Our focus in this new phase will be on scaling up the initiative at the sub-national level and ensuring its sustainable implementation by building on the recent findings from the evaluation of the first phase,” explained Niall Leonard, Charge d’ Affaires, European Union Delegation to the Lao PDR. “The EU is proud to be working with the Lao Government to address these priorities and support the Lao PDR’s National Nutrition Strategy 2016-2025,” she added.

“Results from this meeting will help inform the broader discussion at the National Nutrition Forum this year around how we can meet the nutrition needs of all children and women in the Lao PDR. In this regard, multi-sectoral coordination is key and UNICEF considers it a great privilege to be able to work alongside the Lao Government and our partners, such as the EU, to improve situation of children and women in the Lao PDR,” stated Mr. Arturo Romboli, UNICEF Deputy Representative to the Lao PDR.

A newer and improved version of the dashboard and data repository for the National Information Platforms for Nutrition, launched in 2021, was also unveiled at the meeting, the purpose of which is to help the Lao Government track various nutrition-related indicators and investments at the national and provincial levels. The dashboard and data repository can be accessed by the public as it is an open website (https://nipn.lsb.gov.la/).

The Fourth Annual Dissemination Meeting for the National Information Platforms for Nutrition is being organised as part of the Eighth National Nutrition Forum, which will be held on 21 February 2023. The forum is the biggest annual meeting whereby stakeholders from all across the country convene to discuss the nutrition priorities and challenges in the Lao PDR for each year.

The National Information Platforms for Nutrition has been supported by the European Commission with support from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) of the UK Government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is an integral part of the Government of the Lao PDR’s national nutrition programme, falling under the overall leadership of the National Nutrition Committee.

Source: Lao News Agency