US Assists Laos to Establish Future National Institute of Nutrition

On Sep 2, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ministry of Health celebrated the success of the Laos National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) Organizational Capacity and Strengthening Project, which ran from 2018-2021.

The closing ceremony was chaired by USAID Country Representative to Laos Michael Ronning and Dr. Phonepaseuth Ounaphom, Director of the Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion, Ministry of Health with representatives from the Government of Laos, U.S. Embassy, and development partners.

As part of the U.S. Government’s support for the Lao PDR’s public health and nutrition targets established under its National Plan of Action on Nutrition, the NIN project, funded by USAID, provided institutional capacity training and support to help the Ministry of Health establish its first National Institute of Nutrition.

Through the project, USAID provided comprehensive training in areas such as strategic planning and leadership development for staff at the existing Center of Nutrition. This support has helped to build the foundation of the future National Institute of Nutrition. The project focused on areas such as gender integration, monitoring and evaluation, organizational development, and operating standards and management.

“The Lao PDR’s advancement toward establishing a world-class National Institute of Nutrition is very important. A country’s nutritional status is a key indicator of the health and well-being of its people. The National Institute of Nutrition aligns closely with the National Plan of Action on Nutrition and is a key to achieving Laos’ nutrition goals,” said Mr. Michael Ronning. “USAID will increase its support to the Lao PDR to improve nutrition under the U.S. Lao Comprehensive Partnership.”

“The NIN project has brought us much closer to establishing a strong foundation for national nutrition efforts, including nutrition education and research, laboratory quality assurance, integrated service delivery, hospital-based nutrition rehabilitation, national coordination, and care services,” said Dr. Phonepaseuth Ounaphom. “We are grateful for this partnership with USAID and the U.S. Government to further establish this capacity at the national level.”

Through the Laos NIN Organizational and Capacity Strengthening project, USAID supported the Center of Nutrition to:

? Finalize the application package to formally establish the NIN;

? Complete a Five-Year Strategic Plan to guide its technical and operational evolution between 2021 and 2025;

? Conduct an intensive and transformative leadership development programme for leadership and staff, including technical capacity development.

“While there is more work to do to successfully transition the current Center of Nutrition into the NIN, the work of this project has helped the Center’s staff create a solid foundation on which to build a successful Institute that can help oversee improved nutrition interventions that benefit the people of Laos for decades to come,” said Mr. Ronning.

The United States works in partnership with the Government of the Lao PDR in many programmes, including on health, education, trade and economic development and rule of law. This year, the United States and the Lao PDR are celebrating the 5th anniversary of the U.S. – Lao Comprehensive Partnership, launched by President Barack Obama and President Bounnhang Vorachit in 2016.

Source: Lao News Agency