UNICEF and the Lao Government Step Up Emergency Response to Address the Needs of Children

Vientiane, Lao PDR, 6 August 2018

06 August 2018
UNICEF and the Lao Government Step Up Emergency Response to Address the Needs of Children
UNICEF Laos/2018/Saykoson
UNICEF and the Lao Government Step Up Emergency Response to Address the Needs of Children

Vientiane, 6 August 2018 – In the aftermath of the flash floods that severely affected Attapeu Province, UNICEF is working with Government counterparts, particularly the Ministry of Health (MOH), to provide emergency relief for about 5,300 children and their families. Together with Saravane and Attapeu Namsaats, UNICEF has completed the installation of five sets of electric pumps, 26 mobile latrines, the drilling of 12 boreholes and the distribution of WASH supplies in five camps. UNICEF has also facilitated the access of affected populations to health and nutrition services.

UNICEF is drilling other four boreholes in Ban Bok camp which will be completed in the coming days. Two hand pumps and two electric pumps will also be installed providing clean water to more than 400 people living in this camp. To improve access to sanitation facilities in Ban Bok, six on-site toilets are being constructed.

“Unhygienic conditions in the camps, overcrowding and an expected surge in disease-carrying mosquitoes can create the ideal conditions for outbreaks to spread,” said Dr. Bounkong Syhavong, Minister of Health. “Disease surveillance and provision of health services need to be strengthened. This includes the provision of mental health care, screening for malnutrition, hygiene education, and diagnosis of diarrhea and other diseases. We are working hand-in-hand with UNICEF and other partners to coordinate the response and provide support to the affected populations.”

A UNICEF team with health, nutrition and WASH experts has been deployed in Attapeu and provided support to the Ministry of Health to do an initial assessment of the situation. Based on this a response plan has been developed and shared with Government counterparts. The team is currently working with government counterparts to improve access to basic services.

According to the recent Lao Social Indicator Survey (LSIS-II) results (2017), Attapeu Province had the third highest wasting rate in the country (15%), and the recent floods can only exacerbate malnutrition to even worse levels. Prevention and treatment of malnutrition and promotion of exclusive breastfeeding have been identified as urgent needs to be addressed.

“Nutrition screening of children in camps, treatment of malnutrition cases and promotion of exclusive breastfeeding are some of our priorities. UNICEF is also providing therapeutic food and micro-nutrient supplementation while optimizing the conditions for mothers to breastfeed their children and improve feeding practices, through counselling and awareness raising sessions,” said Octavian Bivol, UNICEF Representative.

Posters highlighting the importance of breastfeeding and to avoid formula feeding have been displayed in all camps and IEC materials distributed. The Lao Women’s Union and Village Health Volunteers will be mobilized in the coming days to promote breastfeeding among women in the camps.

Based on assessment of existing needs, the nutrition team deployed has developed an operational plan in consultation with the Nutrition Focal Person of the District Health Office which includes Mid-Upper Arm Circumference measurements and weekly screening of children in the camps.

Along with the Expanded Programme for Immunization (EPI), UNICEF is also ensuring that children are receiving the recommended vaccinations against preventable diseases such measles, polio, diphtheria and tetanus. The team deployed in the ground is providing support to supervise and monitor vaccination and other lifesaving child and maternal healthcare in all the camps. Moreover, UNICEF is supporting MOH to provide Ante-Natal Care for pregnant women in the camps and outreach services.

In addition to all this, the organization is working with the Ministry of Education and Sports, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Plan International, Save the Children, and Child Fund to set up Child Friendly Spaces in all the accessible camps in order to provide Early Childhood Development services and psychosocial support. The response also includes the distribution of Early Childhood Development toolkits in the camps.

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Tabongphet Phouthavong

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