Laos promotes investment in nutrition at local level

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VIENTIANE, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- Laos will continue to promote investment in nutrition at the local level to create communities that can sustainably produce and have access to nutritious food.

Although the malnutrition situation has improved, investing in nutrition for local communities is still playing a critical role to meet the criteria for Laos graduating from least developed country status, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Wednesday.

Lao Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Planning and Investment Sonexay Siphandone gave the advice at the official closing ceremony of the fifth annual National Nutrition Forum and the National Nutrition Committee meeting in Lao capital Vientiane on Tuesday.

Lao Minister of Health Bounkong Syhavong, along with other officials from involved sectors and partner organizations attended the event.

Sonexay said the financing of the National Nutrition Strategy still relied heavily on external finance from development partners and despite the positive downward trend, significant disparities remained across the 18 provinces of Laos.

He said "We know that a constraining factor for policymakers has been the difficulties they face in tracking public spending in nutrition, both at national and provincial levels for your contribution in improving the nutrition situation of our people."

Ambassador of the European Union to Laos Leo Faber said the National Plan of Action on Nutrition had been costed in great detail, and the absence of a functional classification of the budget has prevented the compilation of comprehensive budget execution data in support of the National Plan of Action on Nutrition.

The theme of the Nutrition Forum in 2019 was "Investing in nutrition for human capital development, growth and prosperity," he added.

The importance of increased investments for nutrition across sectors, particularly by Lao government, for the development of a productive and prosperous society was stressed by multiple speakers and is key for the Lao Government to meet its goal of graduating from least developed country status and fulfil its pledges under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

UNICEF representative Octavian Bivol said that much of the discussion focused on what investments in nutrition meant for building human capital at which children and young people are the core.

Participants showed their commitment to improving the implementation of the nutrition program in Laos with the endorsement of an outcome statement which highlighted the need to increase public financing for nutrition. Enditem

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