On 26th April 2022, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Vientiane, The Government of Lao PDR and development partners gathered at the third annual dissemination meeting organized by the National Information Platforms for Nutrition (NIPN) to discuss key findings on nutrition in Lao PDR. Under the co-chairmanship of H.E Dr. Sthabandith Insisienmay, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment; Ina MARČIULIONYTĖ, Ambassador of the European Union and Dr. Pia BRITTO, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Lao PDR.
The National Information Platforms for Nutrition has been initiated, implemented, and collaborated between research institutes and other related sectors, in particular, The Development Research Institute (DRI) of the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) and the Socio-economic Policy Research Institute (SPRI) of the Lao Academy of Social and Economic Sciences (LASES) as a focal point presented new evidence on the linkages of nutrition and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) outcomes and nutritional status in Lao PDR.
The data and recommendations from this NIPN dissemination meeting are expected to support policymakers and nutrition stakeholders in designing innovative and effective nutrition programs that are evidence-based. “Reliable and quality data can inform the Government’s decisions and facilitate effective planning, budgeting, and monitoring of nutrition actions in the country. This is even more relevant in the current digital age, where data underpins everything and more so in the context of COVID-19, which is greatly impacting nutrition and food security, Key findings from the dissemination suggest that addressing underlying nutrition disparities requires basic levels of sanitation, including access to handwashing with soap and improved sanitation facilities, thereby reducing rates of stunting among Lao children by up to 50 percent. The analysis showed that currently, more than one in two households in Lao PDR lacked basic hygiene services and more than two-thirds of Lao children (71.6 percent) drink water with high levels of Escherichia coli (E. coli) contamination. One of the analysis’ key findings is that malnutrition accounts for a 2.66 percent loss of GDP annually in Lao PDR. The total expenditure reached USD 204.2 million of nutrition financing, of which USD 19.1 million (9 percent) came from domestic resources and the remaining USD 184.8 (91 percent) million from foreign funds through development partners. Similarly, global nutrition evidence has demonstrated that for every 1 USD investment in nutrition, the country gains 16 USD in return” said H.E. Dr. Sthabandith Insixienmay, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment and Convener of the NIPN Advisory Committee.
“Increasing public financing for nutrition is critical for sustaining the gains made over the years. The implementation of the new NPAN (2021-2025) calls for stronger focus and financing to achieve the desired results”, stated H.E. Ina Marčiulionytė, European Union Ambassador to Lao PDR.
“As Lao PDR prepares for the Least Developed Countries (LDC) graduation by 2026, greater effort is required in meeting the food security and nutrition needs of children and women. A comprehensive and broad-based multi-sectoral action is required to ensure the necessary improvements to the human capital of Lao PDR, that is our children. We need to ensure that they grow to their fullest potential in a safe and healthy environment,” stated Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, UNICEF Representative to Lao PDR.