In Phongsaly, Lao PDR’s northernmost province, the Ministry of Health Care, local authorities, UNICEF, and the World Food Programme (WFP) launched an initiative today to improve the nutrition position of kids under the age of five.
The French Alimentary Aid Programme has committed EUR500,000 (roughly USD520,000) to the prevention and treatment of wasting, a type of malnutrition in which children fail to maintain an appropriate weight for their height, jeopardising their health and development and potentially increasing their mortality risk by up to 12 times.
The Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition in Lao initiative will be based on Phongsaly Province, which has persistently high rates of malnutrition, particularly among children under the age of five.
The initiative seeks to promote positive infant and early child feeding practises, enhance maternal nutrition education, and improve the detection and treatment of children afflicted by wasting by leveraging a worldwide cooperation between UNICEF and WFP, in conjunction with the Government of the Lao PDR. The Lao PDR government’s nationwide Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition (IMAM) programme is expected to benefit from these initiatives.
Children under the age of five in Phongsaly have one of the highest malnutrition rates in Laos.
Only 28% of children under the age of five consume meals that exceed WHO minimum tolerable guidelines, and only half of all new-borns are wholly breastfed for the first six months of their life.
Food insecurity exacerbated by climate change and COVID-19, as well as poor maternal nutrition, a high rate of adolescent pregnancy, problematic water and hygiene conditions, and restricted access to health services, among other variables.
In six districts across Phongsaly Province, the plan will instruct 23,000 communal members on important malnutrition, while 5,000 kids under the age of 5 surely are evaluated for nutritional status and 500 severely malnourished children will get treatment and therapeutic diets.
“France is aiding the Lao government in attaining SDG 2 on eradicating hunger, achieving food security, increasing nutrition, and ensuring sustainable agriculture.
We will be better positioned to improve nutritional outcomes for children in Phongsaly by leveraging the technical expertise and extensive field presence of the World Food Programme and UNICEF, as well as the French Research Institute for Development, a project partner “The French Ambassador to the Lao PDR, Siv-Leng Chhuor, stated.
This new project draws on prior UNICEF and World Food Programme activities in Phongsaly, as well as government efforts. UNICEF and the World Food Programme have worked together in the prevention and treatment of child wasting for a long time, united by the view that child wasting can and must be avoided.
The Global Action Plan on Child Wasting, which acts as a framework for country frameworks and explains how wasting prevention and treatment will be administered, was revised in late 2020.
“This new relationship excites the Ministry of Health.” “We must target wasting children with such lifesaving medication because they have a 12 times higher chance of dying than healthy children,” stated Dr. Phonepaseuth Ounaphom, Director General of the Ministry of Health’s Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion. “This project’s holistic approach to prevention and treatment is perfectly linked with the Lao PDR’s National Plan of Action for Nutrition 2021-2025,” says the project’s head, “and will enable our health-care providers to recognise and treat malnourished children before it’s too late.”