UNICEF Lao PDR in collaboration with Huaphanh Province has initialised the 1000-Day Project to improve nutritional status among children in six targeted districts in Huaphanh Province.
Huaphanh was one of the priority provinces targeted by the nutrition initiative supported by the European Union (EU) and MMG Lane Xang Minerals (MMG), in coordination with the World Bank, according to Chief of Communication of UNICEF Lao PDR, Mr Marc Vergara.
Addressing an orientation meeting on Social Behavour Change Communication on Nutrition in Xamneua district of Huaphanh Province on April 3, Mr Vergara said that the five-year project will be implemented in every village in the six targeted districts, namely Ad, Xiengkhor, Sobbao, Viengxay, Xamneua and Hiem.
Huaphanh is also a new province in terms of nutrition interventions.
The implementation of the project 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 6 months up to two years, and promoting sanitation and hygiene.
Initially, UNICEF will work together with all relevant sectors in the province and the six targeted districts to collect detailed data to be used for micro planning.
Health officials and at least one female volunteer per village will then be trained in project implementation in order to ensure that they can monitor programmes closely.
Director General of Huaphanh Provincial Health Department, Dr Vilaphone Phomvongsy, said that there are more than 20,000 children aged 5 and below in the six targeted districts, of whom over 26% suffer from malnutrition.
Most of the affected children come from ethnic groups and live in remote, rural areas.
The ten priority provinces of the nutrition initiative implemented by UNICEF with the EU and MMG are Phongsaly, Bokeo, Luang Namtha, Luang Prabang, Xiengkhouang, Huaphanh, Khammouane, Savannakhet, Saravan, and Attapeu.
The implementation of this national nutrition initiative will cost more than 11.2 million euros (USD 11.93 mllion).
Of the total amount, the European Union financed 9 million euros, and the remaining amount was provided by MMG Lane Xang Minerals and UNICEF-Australia.
Source: Lao News Agency