Vientiane, 9 December 2019 – New evidence on nutrition data and policy landscape was shared today in Vientiane using the National Information Platforms for Nutrition (NIPN) which aims at strengthening information systems for nutrition to prevent malnutrition and its consequences. This is an international initiative of the European Union with support from the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to be implemented in the Lao PDR by UNICEF.
The National Dissemination Meeting is the first to be organized since the NIPN was launched almost a year ago and brings together representatives of key line ministries and departments as well as government officials from the provinces.
“The assessments and secondary analysis as well as the recommendations are extremely important for the Government of Lao PDR as they help us understand better the nutrition data and policy landscape. As we prepare the 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan and sector action plans, the use of data and new evidence are extremely important in setting realistic targets and designing programmes that address the needs of our people” said H.E. Dr Kikeo Chantaboury, Vice Minister-MPI said, while adding that the National Information Platforms for Nutrition (NIPN) initiative is already playing a key role in making better use of evidence and data to design and implement nutrition related policies and programmes.
The Nutrition Policy Landscape analysis revealed that Lao PDR has strong national and sectoral policies as well as strategies that support implementation of nutrition interventions, good nutrition coordination mechanisms at the national and sub-national levels as well as relevant information management systems have been established in the various sectors to support routine monitoring.
The National Information Platforms for Nutrition will generate quality data, perform analyses, track progress and use the information for policy development, contributing to expanding and scaling up effective programmes, and allocating more public funding for nutrition activities. Thanks to this information platform children will benefit from better results.
“Increasingly, we rely on the use of data for evidence-based planning and programming. It is the only way that we can ensure judicious use of scarce resources; be results oriented and be able to reach those who need our support most,” said Mr. Octavian Bivol, Representative of UNICEF Lao PDR. “Data is revolutionizing how we programme and measure results of our collective efforts. The NIPN initiative provides us a good opportunity to strengthen institutional data generation, analysis and use of data to influence policy and decision making in Lao PDR.”
NPIN will contribute to the reduction of stunting and the remaining World Health Assembly 2025 targets for nutrition by strengthening capacities in the Lao PDR to monitor progress towards under nutrition reduction, contributing to implement more cost-effective and evidence-based policies. This is critical not only in order for Lao to live up to its global commitments but also for the long term development and prosperity of the country.
“Childhood stunting has been linked to lower levels of educational achievement and lower productivity in later life. This is worrisome if Lao PDR is to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Closing the resource gaps between stunted and non-stunted children is, thus, extremely important and requires Government and development partners to consider reviewing existing nutrition policies and strategies to ensure that it addresses the key health and nutrition deprivations facing children in Laos,” stated Leo Faber, European Union Ambassador.
Lao PDR has made significant gains in stunting reduction from 44 per cent in 2011 to 33 per cent in 2017, according to the Lao-Social Indicator Survey (LSIS-II). However levels of stunting remains of public health concern across all provinces, but is particularly high outside the capital of Vientiane with 11 out of 18 provinces with levels of stunting above 30 per cent, some as high as 54 per cent. Wide disparity can be among different geographical areas, by wealth quintile, and ethnicity. If left unaddressed this will have significant impact on the development of the country as these children, the future workforce of the country, if stunted have reduced capacity to learn in school, grow their fullest potential and achieve maximum economic benefits in adult life and with it the prosperity of their communities and the country as a whole.
The NIPN initiative is an integral part of the Government nutrition programme, which is supported and implemented jointly by EU Delegation and UNICEF in the context of their Partnership for Improved Nutrition in the Lao PDR in support of the National Nutrition Strategy to 2025 and Plan of Action 2016-2020.
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