Luxembourg provides Euros 8.1 million to promote maternal and child health in Lao PDR
Vientiane, March 4, 2011 - Efforts to improve the health of women and children living in remote areas of Lao PDR have been given an important boost with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of Lao PDR and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
Eighteen districts in five provinces – Phongsaly, Luang Namtha, Luangprabang, Oudomxay and Savannakhet – have been selected to receive the support, based on criteria such as the prevailing high rates of disease and stunting among children, and low utilization of existing health facilities.
Currently, less than 20 per cent of women have the benefit of a skilled birth attendant when they give birth, and up to three Lao women die every day during pregnancy or childbirth. Infant mortality rates have improved, but remain high, at 70 per 1,000 live births. Malnutrition data is scarcely more encouraging. There has been almost no change in the rate of stunting since 2000, at 40.4 per cent of children under five. Over 40 per cent of children aged 6-59 months are anaemic.
To prevent stunting, specialised nutrition products will be given to children from 6 months to 23 months of age who are in danger of becoming chronically malnourished. In addition, the Luxembourg contribution will be used to provide food to pregnant women as an incentive for them to access health facilities, and to ensure nutrition education for women of child-bearing age and other caregivers.
As well as improving the quality of health services delivered to communities, the financial support from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg will help strengthen the planning and district-level management of the Government’s package of Integrated Maternal and Neonatal Child Health (MNCH) services. Support will also be given to improving awareness and understanding of health issues at community level, and promoting demand among families for the MNCH services provided by the Government of Lao PDR.
“Under the Lao-Luxembourg Health Sector Support Programme, we are already providing assistance to mothers and new-borns throughout the country,” said Minister Jacobs, “but we felt that we could do a lot more and further expand the outreach of healthcare with the help of the UN system.”
Gabriel Baptista, Attaché, Embassy of Luxembourg in Vietnam (Office for Development Cooperation) Tel: (00844) 3946 1416 Mobile (0084) (0)914342877 Gabriel.Baptista@mae.etat.lu
Simon Ingram, UNICEF Communication, Tel: + 856 21 315 200 - 05 ext 129