BOUNNEUA, LAO PDR – The Ministry of Health, provincial authorities, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and UNICEF today launched a project supported by the French Republic, focused on improving the nutritional status of children under five in the northernmost region of Lao PDR. Phongsali province.
An investment of EUR 500,000 (approximately USD 520,000) from the French Food Aid Program will help prevent and treat wasting, a form of malnutrition where children fail to maintain an adequate weight for their height, compromising their health and development and seriously endangering their lives. The Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition project in Laos will be implemented in Phongsaly province, an area where malnutrition rates remain high, particularly among children under five. Building on a global partnership between UNICEF and WFP, as well as the Government of Lao PDR, the project aims to promote positive infant and young child feeding practices, improve maternal nutritional knowledge and improve the detection and treatment of children affected by wasting. Overall, this should strengthen the results of the Government of Lao PDR’s National Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition Programme.
In Phongsaly, the prevalence of malnutrition among children under five remains one of the highest of all the provinces of Laos. Less than half of all infants are exclusively breastfed for their first 6 months, and only 28% of children under five consume diets that meet WHO minimum acceptable criteria. Poor maternal nutrition, high number of teenage pregnancies, difficult water and hygiene conditions and limited access to health services, as well as food insecurity, due to the impacts of climate change and COVID -19, among others, further aggravate the situation. The project will sensitize 23,000 community members on acute malnutrition, while 5,000 children under five will be screened to identify their nutritional status and 500 acutely malnourished children will receive treatment services and therapeutic food in six districts. from the province of Phôngsali.
“France supports the Lao government in its efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 on ending hunger, food security, improved nutrition and sustainable agriculture. By relying on the technical expertise and significant presence in the field of WFP and UNICEF, as well as the French Institute of Research for Development (IRD), a partner in this project, we will be better placed to improve nutritional outcomes of children in Phongsaly, especially in light of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said HE Siv-Leng Chhuor, Ambassador of France to Lao PDR.
This newly launched project builds on previous interventions supported by UNICEF and WFP in Phongsaly as well as national-level efforts. UNICEF and WFP have a long-standing partnership on the prevention and treatment of wasting, united by their mutual understanding that the problem of child wasting can and should be prevented. This partnership, which was recently renewed at the end of 2020, is codified in the Global Plan of Action on Child Wasting, which serves as the basis for national frameworks and details how the prevention and treatment of wasting will be managed.
“The Ministry of Health welcomes this new partnership. Wasted children have a higher risk of death – up to 12 times higher – than healthy children and it is therefore imperative that we reach them with such a life-saving treatment,” said Dr. Phonepaseuth Ounaphom, Director General of The Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion, Ministry of Health said, “The holistic approach to prevention and treatment in this project is fully aligned with the Lao PDR National Action Plan for Nutrition 2021-2025 and will enable our health workers to detect and treat people suffering from malnutrition. children before it’s too late, which builds on our ongoing efforts to build an integrated system for managing acute malnutrition.
For more information please contact:
Ildiko Hamos, WFP Partnerships and Communications Coordinator
[email protected], tel. +856 (0)21 330 300 extension 2229, Mob. +856 (0)20 7717 7913
Mavliuda Dzhaparova, Head of OIC Communication, UNICEF Lao PDR
[email protected], Tel. : +996777919142
French Embassy press contact:
Pierre Jouneaux, press officer
[email protected], Tel: +856 (0)20 77 193 198