General

Nutrition Forum Takes Stock of Progress on Nutrition of Lao Children

(KPL) Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone, chaired the 5th annual National Nutrition Forum and the National Nutrition Committee meeting on Tuesday. It was attended by high level government officials from different line ministries, including Health, Planning and Investment, Education and Sports, Finance, Agriculture and Forestry, mass organisations, development partners, UN, civil society, business and academia.

The aim of the forum, supported by EU and UNICEF, was to take stock of progress made on the National Nutrition Strategy and Plan of Action as part of an annual consultation to track progress and identify bottlenecks in ensuring the good nutrition of children in the Lao PDR.

According to the Lao Social Indicator Survey (LSIS-II, 2017), stunting has decreased from 44 per cent in LSIS-I to 33 per cent.

I congratulate all sectors; both national and provincial levels for your contribution in improving the nutrition situation of our people. The improvements are impressive. It is this results that will guarantee the future we aspire for the next generation, said Mr. Sonexay Siphandone.

Despite this positive trend, significant disparities remain across the 18 provinces.

The financing of the National Nutrition Strategy still relies heavily on external finance from development partners. We call for the gradually increased government financing for nutrition as the sustainable response to nutrition challenges. Development Partners financing should complement, and not substitute, Government financing on nutrition, stated Leo Faber, Ambassador of the European Union to the Lao PDR.

We know that a constraining factor for policy makers has been the difficulties they face in tracking public spending in nutrition. Indeed, whereas the National Plan of Action on Nutrition has been costed in great details, the absence of a functional classification of the budget has prevented the compilation of comprehensive budget execution data in support of the National Plan of Action on Nutrition, said Leo Faber.

The theme of this year’s Nutrition Forum was Investing in nutrition for human capital development, growth and prosperity.

The importance of increased investments for nutrition across sectors, particularly by Government, for the development of a productive and prosperous society was stressed by multiple speakers and is key for the Government of the Lao PDR to meet its goal of graduating from least development country status and fulfill its pledges under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Today marks another important milestone in our continuing path towards eliminating all forms of malnutrition in the Lao PDR. Much of the discussion today has focused on what investments in nutrition mean for building human capital. Children and young people are at the core of human, social, economic and national development. Today, though, reminds us of the immediate and future consequences of inaction on the drivers of under and over nutrition, particularly in the early stages of life, explained Mr. Octavian Bivol, UNICEF Representative.

The Annual National Nutrition Forum is chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister of the country who also chairs the National Nutrition Committee, a multi-sectoral committee which was established as part of Scaling Up Nutrition in the Lao PDR to enhance nutrition governance, particularly to coordinate the implementation of essential nutrition actions with the overall goal of addressing the relatively high prevalence of malnutrition in the country.

Source: Lao News Agency