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PRESS RELEASEJune 26, 2024

Lao PDR Commits to Prioritizing Nutrition

Second Lao PDR Human Capital Summit Logo in Lao and English. Tagline is

At the Second Lao PDR Human Capital Summit today, the Lao government announced a renewed commitment to tackling malnutrition, recognizing that proper nutrition in a child’s first 1,000 days will determine a person’s intelligence and strength for life.

The summit, titled Accelerated Nutrition Actions for Human Capital Development and chaired by the prime minister, brought together leaders and experts to discuss strategies for improving nutrition and investing in the nation's future.

Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone opened the event by highlighting the importance of nutrition as the basis of a strong and resilient economy, noting the government’s commitment to improving nutrition outcomes, building human capital, and ensuring economic growth and prosperity. The prime minister also said, Nutrition should be front and center in the next National Socio-Economic Development Plan. Every child should have the opportunity to develop and grow to their full potential, and in turn contribute to the growth of the nation.”

The latest data reveals that nearly 33% of children in the Lao PDR under 5 are stunted, with impaired growth and development due to chronic malnutrition, while close to 11% are affected by wasting, which is when a child is too thin for her or his height. These conditions lead to chronic diseases, poor school performance, and reduced lifetime earnings. A child born in the Lao PDR today will be only 46% as productive as she could be with full education and health. Adequate nutrition, especially in the early years of life, ensures proper brain development.

Pia Rebello Britto, UNICEF Representative to the Lao PDR, told participants that investment in nutrition is essential for national growth. “The Lao PDR’s economic stability and future growth depend on the actions we take today,” she said. “In these challenging times, it's more crucial than ever to ensure that every dollar, every kip, is spent wisely. An investment in child nutrition is an investment in the nation's future. We need to focus on interventions that deliver the greatest impact, reaching every child, in every corner of the country—today, for a better tomorrow.”

Alberto Rodriguez, World Bank Human Development Director for East Asia and the Pacific, said, “Improving nutrition among women and young children requires investment in different sectors, ensuring that mothers and infants receive a package of essential nutrition related services, along with robust monitoring systems”.

The summit concluded with a government commitment to prioritize nutrition in the upcoming Tenth National Socioeconomic Development Plan. The government pledged to develop an accelerated action plan led by the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Cultural and Social Affairs, establish a coordinating unit to oversee implementation, and implement a nutrition budget tagging system to ensure effective investment and resource use.

Backed by the World Bank and UNICEF, the summit series focuses on investing in people's knowledge, skills, and health. The first summit, in May 2023, focused on education.



Aiden Glendinning
+857 21 266278


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