US to help advance maternal child health, nutrition in Lao PDR

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a new five-year Project for Capacity Strengthening for Maternal Child Health and Nutrition.

The Project will be implemented by JSI Research and Training Institute, Inc. in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and will implement activities in 24 districts of the five provinces of Phongsaly, Oudomxay, Savannakhet, Saravan, and Xekong.

Mr. Phonepaseuth Ounaphom, Director General, Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion, MOH, and Mr. Brian Mulligan, Chief of Party, JSI, signed the MOU in the presence of Dr. Sanong Thongsana, Vice Minister of Health; Dr. Peter M. Haymond, Ambassador of the United States; and Mr. Mark Kowalski, International Division Director, JSI; and more than 50 participants from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and development partners.

Ambassador Haymond highlighted the importance of the U.S.-Laos Comprehensive Partnership. He said, “The United States is proud to continue our support to improve the health and nutrition of the people of Laos. Our comprehensive health assistance helps strengthen Laos’ health system in preparation for any health crises in the future so the Lao people can be kept safe and healthy.”

This USAID-funded Project will improve health and nutrition outcomes among pregnant and postpartum women, newborns, children, and adolescents in hard-to-reach communities. To achieve this vision, the Project aligns its approach with the Lao PDR’s Sam Sang Directive, where responsibility is increasingly delegated to local administrative levels. In support of the MOH’s Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child Health Strategy and Action Plan (2016-2025), the Project will strengthen capacity of national, provincial, and district health partners and engage communities to work with the health system to achieve better health outcomes by:

? Increasing access to and use of maternal child health and nutrition (MCHN) services;

? Improving the quality of MCHN services;

? Strengthening health system capacity at all levels; and,

? Promoting the adoption of optimal MCHN behaviors by families and communities.

This USAID Project is intended to strengthen the leadership, management, and governance capacity of provincial and district health offices to enhance quality of care investments by health care providers. The Project will also strengthen MCHN outreach services to remote communities and improve village health volunteer, community leader, and health center engagement for maternal, child health and nutrition.

The USAID-MOH partnership will help establish Centres of Excellence in each province, which will provide clinical training for health workers and improve their knowledge and skills. The Project will also provide easy-to-use informational resources to adolescents, pregnant women, and parents.

Previous USAID investment in nutrition reached 200,000 villagers in 500 communities in Khammuan and Savannakhet Provinces with nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene interventions, improving the overall health of Khammuan and Savannakhet people.

Source: Lao News Agency

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