The U.S. government, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), and the Lao Ministry of Health signed two Memorandums of Understanding on September 5th to construct and operate a new Lao-American Nutrition Institute (LANI) in Vientiane. The Institute will help prevent malnutrition and promote health and well-being throughout Laos.
The Oregon Health and Science University will train dietitians at the Institute and help Lao experts to respond to the core drivers behind malnutrition throughout the country, thus improving the health of Lao people for generations to come. When completed, LANI 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 in order to feature innovative food products and to display the research efforts that are being studied; outdoor training facilities to simulate typical rural home environments in order 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.
This landmark achievement represents the culmination of 3 years of planning and collaboration between the U.S. and Lao governments. As technical advisors and teachers, OHSU and other regional partners will offer over 85 years of experience training registered dietitians. Graduates of the LANI’s clinical dietetics and community nutrition management programs will work at national, provincial, and community hospitals and with community leaders throughout Lao PDR 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% and 9.6%, respectively, among children under the age of 5 years.