Annual Research Conference Unveils New Insights for Data-Driven Solutions to Malnutrition in Lao PDR

Mar 5, 2024

Vientiane, 5 March 2024 – Today, the Government of Lao PDR and development partners convened at the Fifth Annual National Nutrition Research Conference (formerly known as the Annual Dissemination Meeting for the National Information Platforms for Nutrition) to discuss new research findings on nutrition in an effort to bolster the nationwide drive in addressing malnutrition.

Representatives from across different sectors, including Government, Academia, Non-Governmental Organisations, to the stage on Tuesday to present the latest findings on nutrition in the country in the presence of both representatives from government and development partners. These include findings from the third and latest round of the Lao Social Indicator Survey (LSIS), the first nationwide survey on the situation of Lao children and women since the outbreak of COVID-19, alongside the second round of the National Nutrition Surveillance and others key studies.

“To effectively tackle malnutrition in Lao PDR, our strategies and interventions need to be informed by data, hence the rationale behind the launch of the National Information Platforms for Nutrition or NIPN initiative in 2018 and this annual conference,”  explained H.E. Dr. Sathabandith Insixiengmai, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment and Convener of the NIPN Advisory Committee. The Vice Minister further also highlighted the need for urgent action based on the latest findings shared during the meeting.

According to findings from LSIS III, progress in tackling malnutrition in Lao PDR has been stalled due to the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic: rates of improvement in stunting have slowed down in recent years while rates of acute malnutrition (wasting) have risen. Further studies shared also highlighted the need to promote healthier eating habits among children, the education costs of malnutrition and the importance of routine data in decision-making processes and interventions at all levels of healthcare.

“Strong nutrition policies and interventions can only be made on the foundation of good data,” remarked H.E. Ms. Ina Marčiulionytė, EU Ambassador to Lao PDR. “As such, the EU considers it a privilege to be able to work alongside the Lao Government and our partners to ensure the availability of quality data through our flagship NIPN initiative.”

In addition to the presentations on the latest nutritional findings in the country, a panel discussion was organized as part of the conference. The panel brought together researchers and policymakers from key sectors related to nutrition to exchange their insights on how to better integrate data into nutrition programmes and interventions.

“Today’s gathering marks a pivotal moment on our journey towards the Ninth National Nutrition Forum, where we envision harnessing the power of nutrition to unleash the immense potential of our nation’s future generations,” proclaimed Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, UNICEF Representative to Lao PDR. “The insights gained from our discussions today underscore the urgency of transforming high-quality data into dynamic actions that will shatter the enduring cycle of malnutrition in Lao PDR.”

Dr. Pia Rebello Britto reiterated UNICEF’s pledge to collaborate closely with partners to craft and implement strategies that promise a healthier, brighter future for every child in Lao PDR through practical and impactful nutritional interventions.

The Fifth Annual National Nutrition Research Conference is being organised as part of the Ninth National Nutrition Forum, which will be held on 6 March 2024. The forum is the biggest annual meeting whereby stakeholders from all across the country convene to discuss the nutrition priorities and challenges in Lao PDR for each year