Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Press release: The Government, EU and UNICEF launch the National Information Platforms for Nutrition in Laos


Vientiane, 5 October 2018 – The Vice Minister of Planning and Investment, H.E Dr. Kikeo Chanthaboury, launched today 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. 

This nutrition information system 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.  

“The establishment and use of the NIPN initiative will help the Lao PDR to strengthen national capacity to manage and analyse information and data from all sectors which have an influence on nutrition, to track progress, and to disseminate and use information to better inform the policies and strategic decisions that prevent undernutrition and its consequences,” H.E Dr. Chanthaboury said at the launch event.

The overall goal of NIPN is to contribute to the global reduction of stunting (chronic undernutrition) in alignment with the World Health Assembly 2025 targets. Particularly, this initiative will strengthen capacities in the Lao PDR to monitor progress towards under nutrition reduction, contributing to implement more cost-effective and evidence-based policies.

According to the Lao Social Indicator Survey (LSIS-II, 2017), stunting has decreased from 44 per cent in LSIS-I to 33 per cent. Despite this positive downward trend, significant disparities remain across the 18 provinces. Between 2015 (Lao Child Anthropometric Assessment Survey) and 2017, a slight but not significant decrease has occurred in the prevalence of children under 5 years of age who suffer from wasting or acute malnutrition (low weight for height) from 9.6 per cent to 9.0 per cent.

“Strengthening the multi-sectoral approach to combat all forms of malnutrition is also dependent on the availability of nutrition information and related systems. It is an essential step to establish a national information platform that has the capabilities to generate information for policy dialogue and debate and that will contribute significantly to how nutrition programmes can be improved to meet changing conditions and the future context,” stated H.E Mr. Leo Faber, Ambassador of the European Union to the Lao PDR.  

Comprehensive data generated from the NIPN will be the basis for the National Nutrition Committee’s Annual Progress Report on the implementation of the National Nutrition Strategy to 2025 and Plan of Action to 2020 (NNSPA) and monitoring and reporting of the 8th National Socio-economic Development Plan, Sustainable Development Goals and Scaling Up Nutrition movement, monitoring. This will also provide significant information for monitoring and reporting of SDGs.

“The information collected through NIPN will feed into the annual National Nutrition Forums, Round Table Meetings and review meetings. With this system in place, we will be able to maximize the analysis and interpretation of existing information and data on nutrition to understand better the factors that influence it,” explained Octavian Bivol, UNICEF Representative, Lao PDR.

This NIPN initiative will be 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. The NIPN project will be implemented by the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the National Economic Research Institute (NIER) with support from related line ministries and partners over a 4-year period from 2018 – 2021.


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About UNICEF
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 in Lao PDR, visit http://www.unicef.org/laos

About the European Union
The European Union and our member states is the biggest provider of Official Development Assistance as well as humanitarian aid in the world. We work on reducing poverty; ensuring sustainable development; promoting democracy, peace and security in the world. 
For more information about us, visit http://europa.eu/
To learn about European Union's work in Laos, please follow FacebookTwitter and our website.

For more information, please contact:

Maria Fernandez, UNICEF Lao PDR, (+856) 2055519681, mfernandez@unicef.org
Tabongphet Phouthavong, UNCEF Lao PDR, (+856) 2096888890, tphouthavong@unicef.org
Thongvone SOSAMPHAN, Press and Information Officer, EU Delegation in Laos, (+856) 20 52826193, Thongvone.SOSAMPHAN@eeas.europa.eu

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Photo stories: better health, better life

By Mike Saycon



Xaiathon works all day – at home and in the field – and still finds time to breast feed her youngest son and play with her sons. Living an hour from her rice field, and even farther from the town centre, means a challenge to juggle her role at home and in following through her and her children’s health checks. Still, the boys are healthy, she says – and she and her husband are trying to have a baby girl.




Vilayphone and her husband Sonephet regularly take their five-month old son Konkham to the village health centre in Dongsavanh for his dose of vaccines and monitoring his weight. They want to keep him healthy and strong.




Lii, who was already married at age 15, comes to the health clinic in Dongsavanh Village to see her nurse, Keolammone, who makes sure she is healthy and ready to give birth in four months’ time. Lii works in the farm with her husband, but she has decided to stop working for now, to make sure she and her baby will remain healthy.




At only age 24, Chansamone works at the Phonxai Village health centre with the few other, servicing women and children from 10 villages and 21 sub-villages. She also does the works of being both a nurse and a midwife. The logo on her uniform says ‘Safe Mother, Safe Baby’.


Patients arrive at the district hospital in Xepon, Savannakhet, for their health checks, on their farm tractor – which is the only common mode of transport in rural areas. For many families who do not own any or cannot afford to hire one, they simply forgo their health checks, including immunisation doses for their children, and instead work at their farms. © UNICEF Laos/2018/Mike Saycon 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The ripple-effect of child educated


Mike Saycon

Kamla’s older sister, who takes care of their younger brother while their parents work at the farm, walks him to school. Many of the children’s parents are farmers, and on non-school days they help out along with their friends and neighbours. 



Kamla and his classmates return to their CBSR centre – from their 20-minute outdoor learning activities between their lessons. As many of their friends are from nearby houses, they have many children to play with during their games; especially those younger children who are not yet in the CBSR, or the older ones who are on their summer break from primary school.

  


Between their learning activities, children play various games as a group or with the other village children outside their classroom. Many of the outdoor games that they play as a class are designed to reinforce the lessons they had just learned, thus allowing for a more holistic learning experience.



Kham, village facilitator in Cho Tai village in Ta Oi, Saravan Province, believes in the importance of school readiness for children that he brings along his son Dao to join the classes as well. “I am always very happy when the children in my class are all in attendance, and it motivates me even more to make their lessons as fun and as interesting for them – so they want to keep on learning,” he says.

 

Kamla and his friends at the CBSR centre, on the more serious parts of their lessons – writing the alphabet and comparing notes. The CBSR is one of the interventions that UNICEF supports to increase the readiness of children to enter and stay on in primary school; in order for them to be competent and sufficiently skilled to finish through all levels of the formal education system and be employed later.
                                        





Literacy and numeracy modules in CBSRs are integrated with musical and games elements to keep the young pupils interested, giving the classrooms a fun vibe. The big groups of 30+ children can be challenging to manage for one or two village facilitators; hence by giving the children some form of entertainment while learning their lessons along with it, they are able to reinforce their lessons well.



Learning activities at the CBSR centre are designed to be as interactive as possible, to enhance the ability of the young learners in responding to stimuli such as colours, images and numbers; and allow them to engage actively with both their facilitators and peers. Pictured here is Kone who motivates his pupils to volunteer for a show-and-tell session with their peers.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

UNICEF Executive Director: We must all hear the voices of 1.8 billion young people

Henrietta H. Fore

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore UNICEF stands with UNICEF supporters BTS, 
a global pop group, in advance of the launch of Generation Unlimited at Youth 2030.

Secretary-General, President Kagame, President Kim. And thank you Jayathma, for bringing to the halls of the United Nations something that is sorely needed: the voices of young people.

In my travels, I’ve heard their voices, too — their ideas, their enthusiasm, their vision for the future.

I’ve also heard their worries. That they will not find the education or skills they need. That they won’t find a job. They’re worried about violence at home…online…at school…in their neighbourhoods. And girls are worried about the discrimination and violence they face just because they’re girls.

We must all hear the voices of 1.8 billion young people. Which is why UNICEF is launching Generation Unlimited, or “Gen-U.” Our time. Our turn. Our unlimited future.

On 24 September 2018 at the United Nations Headquarters, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore (left) speaks at the launch of Generation Unlimited at Youth 2030, a High-Level event at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly.

We’re calling for cutting-edge solutions and new ideas to get every young person in school, training or age-appropriate employment by 2030.

We’re asking governments, businesses, foundations, academia, non-profits, communities and innovators to help us. And we’re co-creating these solutions with young people in the lead. Supporting them as — together — we design and scale-up solutions that address these needs.

Today, we’re announcing a first round of solutions that can be scaled-up.

From a program in Argentina that connects remote, rural students with teachers via digital technology. To a program in Bangladesh that is training tens of thousands of young people in trades like tailoring, motorcycle repair and mobile-phone servicing. To a job-shadowing program in South Africa connecting young women with mentors in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math.
On 24 September 2018 at the United Nations Headquarters, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore (right)speaks at launch of Generation Unlimited at Youth 2030, a High-Level event at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly.

The next step is to gather public and private partners around these and other promising solutions to develop concrete plans to grow the funding base necessary to reach more young people, in more communities and countries.

But we need more ideas — big and small, local and global.

The possibilities are endless. And the need is urgent.

A massive generation is about to inherit our world. Please help us leave a legacy of hope and opportunities for them. And most importantly, with them. Thank you.

And now I’d like to ask my friend Jim Kim, President of the World Bank — and a true champion of children and young people — to say a few words.
 
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Friday, September 21, 2018

Joint Statement: Development Partners Endorse MOH action for Appropriate Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies


Vientiane, 18 September 2018 – “UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA, and Save the Children strongly endorse the decision taken by the Ministry of Health, Department of Health and Hygiene Promotion, to not accept donations of infant formula, breastmilk substitutes, milk products marketed for infants and young children and feeding bottles and teats. Jointly, we commend the Ministry of Health for taking such strong action to protect, promote and support breastfeeding by mothers who due to the flood emergency in Sanamxai District, Attapeu Province have been displaced from their homes and villages”.    

“The Department of Health and Hygiene Promotion (DHHP) made it very clear in their notification dated 05 September 2018, to donors, manufacturers, distributers, retailers, representatives of infant formula brands and individuals, that in accordance to the National Nutrition Strategy and Plan of Action (2016-2025), the Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health  (RMNCH) Strategy (2016-2020) and the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, donations and distribution of infant formula or any other breastmilk substitutes, feeding bottles and teats are not permitted”.  

“The DHHP stated that the risk of contamination of infant formula during storage and preparation is extremely high in such poor hygiene conditions and thus places the lives of Lao infants and young children in danger of illness and death. To prevent the potential deaths of infants and young children, the DHHP calls for provincial and district authorities in Attapeu to decline any donations of infant formula, follow-on formula for young children, other milk products marketed to infants and young children and feeding bottles and teats. DHHP also calls for health teams, development partners and UN who are supporting the emergency response to provide counselling and support mothers to continue breastfeeding.” 

“This notification from MOH, DHHP comes at an important time in the emergency response. Recent reports and photos captured during monitoring activities by UN staff on the ground, confirm that infant formula donations are being distributed to families living in temporary camps which not only violates the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, it is contradictory to the National Infant and Young Child Feeding Guidelines”. 

“In such situation, UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA, and Save the Children, stands by the Ministry of Health decision to not accept donations of infant formula or other breastmilk substitutes and feeding bottles and teats. Together, we support the Government of Lao PDR to support appropriate infant and young child feeding and reiterate the caution about unnecessary use of breastmilk substitutes and other milk products”. 

“UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA, and Save the Children reiterate that no food or liquid other than breastmilk, not even water, is needed to meet an infant’s nutritional requirements during the first six months of life. After this period, infants should begin to receive a variety of foods, while breastfeeding continues up to two years of age or beyond. Children from the age of six months require nutrient-rich complementary foods in addition to breastfeeding. Provision of fortified foods or micronutrient supplements such as vitamin A or zinc in supervised programmes for young children represent a much more appropriate form of assistance than distributing milk products”.

“The valuable protection against infection that breastmilk confers is more important in environments without safe water supply and sanitation. Therefore, creation of a protective environment and provision of skilled support to breastfeeding women are essential interventions.  This is especially critical where the use of milk products prior to the emergency was low, and mothers who would usually breastfeed might needlessly start giving artificial feeds”. 

“Jointly, we commit to supporting the Government of Lao PDR to include capacity building for breastfeeding and infant and young child feeding as part of emergency preparedness in the future and as part of the disaster response already underway in Attapeu Province. We commit to supporting financial and human resources for proper and timely implementation of support for breastfeeding and infant and young child feeding in emergencies”. 

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For more information, please contact: 

UNICEF: Maria Fernandez, Chief of Communication. Email: mfernandez@unicef.org; Telephone: +856 20 55519681.