USAID and UNICEF Increase Efforts to Improve Community Health and Nutrition in Key Target Provinces
The United States Government through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has pledged USD 2.8 million to UNICEF to assist vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations.
Vientiane Capital, 20 October – The Vice Minister of Health, H.E. Associate Professor Dr. Phouthone Muangpak, the Ambassador of the United States of America to Lao PDR, H.E. Peter M. Haymond, and the Representative of UNICEF to Lao PDR, Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, today officially launched the Community Maternal, Child Health and Nutrition Strengthening project in Lao PDR, funded by the U.S. Government via USAID. The project will improve the health and nutrition of mothers, newborns, children and adolescents from twelve districts in four provinces: Khammouane, Savannakhet, Saravane and Attapeu.
“Although important progress has been made over the last years in improving children’s survival and development, there are still inequities in health services coverage, with women and children from the poorest communities and those in hard-to-reach areas having limited access to key health care services. Thanks to this new partnership between USAID, UNICEF, together with the Ministry of Health, we will work closely together to improve the lives of those most in need,” said the Minister of Health.
The number of under-five deaths in Lao PDR from 1990 to 2019 dropped from 26,757 to 7,520, a 70 per cent decline. Furthermore, the Neonatal Mortality Rate and Adolescent Mortality Rate have both drastically decreased by 54 and 67 per cent respectively over the same period, according to the new mortality estimates released by UNICEF, The World Health Organization (WHO), the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and the World Bank. Despite the progress made, far too many children die unnecessarily due to preventable diseases. Progress in addressing undernutrition remains low and one out of three children are still stunted.
This five-year project emphasizes health and nutrition service delivery through culturally responsive engagement and empowerment of communities. It will specifically focus on enhancing district health management and coordination for increased delivery of quality and equitable services to vulnerable populations; improving capacity of the primary health workers to deliver quality essential services; and improving community and household knowledge and positive care practices in health and nutrition.
“The United States is proud to work with the Government of Lao PDR and UNICEF to provide vulnerable populations particularly women and children, with primary health and nutrition care services. This new activity reaffirms our strong partnership with the Government of Laos under the U.S. Laos Comprehensive Partnership to improve the well-being of the people of Laos.” said Ambassador Haymond.
“The socio-economic crisis triggered by the pandemic may further exacerbate the inequities within populations and, thus, focusing on the most marginalized communities is now even more crucial. UNICEF is committed to giving every child the best start in life, to grow and develop to their full potential. If children do not get the attention they deserve and do not get protected from the impact of this pandemic, we could be seeing the impact beyond a single generation,” Dr. Britto explained.
As part of the project, USAID and UNICEF will work closely with the Ministry of Health to strengthen community-based primary health care. There will be interventions at district and community level; at health centers, where health workers interact with village health volunteers and the village health committee; and at the village level where the members of the village health committee and the village health volunteers interact with community members of different ethnic groups.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.