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New Institute to Improve Nutrition in Laos

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The Ministry of Health, the US government and Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) on Monday signed two Memorandums of Understanding to build and operate the Lao-American Nutrition Institute (LANI) in Vientiane.

The institute will help prevent malnutrition and promote health and well-being throughout Laos. This three-year project worth about US$3.7 million will provide training to nutrition managers and clinical dieticians over the next five years.

OHSU will train dietitians at the institute and help Lao experts to respond to the core drivers behind malnutrition throughout the country.

When completed, the institute will have classrooms, a lecture hall, outpatient and inpatient clinical assessment and intervention areas, and a clinical laboratory.

It will also include a teaching/demonstration kitchen and café featuring innovative food products and to display the research efforts being studied; outdoor training facilities to simulate typical rural home environments to evaluate innovative and adaptive food preparation techniques and storage methods; and a community-based demonstration garden to display and test garden-to-family’ sustainable agriculture methods, hygienic animal husbandry practices, and health-promoting environmental initiatives.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Minister of Health Associate Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong said the nutrition training provided by LANI will improve community nutritionists’ skills. They will then return to practice their acquired new knowledge and skills in the community and help to combat malnutrition.

I believe that this nutrition partnership will help prevent malnutrition and promote health and well-being among Lao people and successive generations, he added.

The new institute is expected to be built in Dongphosy village, Hadxaifong district.

This landmark achievement represents the culmination of three years of planning and cooperation between the US and Lao governments.

As technical advisers and teachers, OHSU and other regional partners will offer over 85 years of experience training registered dietitians. Graduates of LANI’s clinical dietetics and community nutrition management programme will work at national, provincial and community hospitals and with community leaders throughout Laos to address malnutrition, a top health priority in Laos.

Although significant advancements have been made to reduce malnutrition in recent years, the overall rates of stunting and wasting remain at 35.6 percent and 9.6 percent respectively, among children under the age of five.

In addition, the US assistance will also support national strategy on nutrition until 2025 and the Ministry of Health’s plan for 2016-2020.

So far, the United States has provided funding to buy iron-folic acid and d eworming tablets, therapeutic food supplements, seasonal influenza and polio vaccines, and is also providing technical support to the communicable disease control programme for neglected tropical diseases, field epidemiological training, and epidemiological laboratory equipment.

Associate Prof. Dr Bounkong, US Ambassador to Laos Mr. Daniel Clune and a representative of Oregon Health and Science University, Dr Sara SchwankeKhilji, signed the Memorandums of Understanding, witnessed by other personnel involved.

Source: Vientiane Times