The U.S. government announced on January 28 the launch of a new $6 million program implemented by Save the Children to improve the health of women and children in Laos. Over the next three years, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Nurture initiative will help reduce child nutritional stunting and improve household nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene practices.
“Empowering local communities to take the lead in improving conditions for their families is a key focus of our new program,” said USAID Assistant Administrator for Asia, Jonathan Stivers. “We are pleased to support efforts to give children the best possible start in life so that they can stay healthy, stay in school and reach their full potential as productive adults.”
Despite strong economic growth, Laos still experiences some of the highest rates of child and maternal mortality and malnutrition in Southeast Asia. Approximately 44 percent of children in Laos are stunted and 27 percent of children underweight.
The project, implemented by Save the Children in collaboration with SNV Netherlands Development Organization, works through community-based health workers and local villages to improve infant and young child feeding practices with pregnant women and children under two years of age. The project team also helps communities improve their sanitation.
“Investment in nutrition is an investment in economic development,” said Beth S. Paige, director of the USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia. “By reaching out to children and their mothers, we can help improve nutrition and prosperity for all Lao citizens.”
The announcement of the new project came during USAID Assistant Administrator Stivers’ first visit to Laos. While in the country, he visited villages in the Luang Prabang region to see the status of health and education activities. Before departing on January 29, he is also to meet with H.E Prof. Dr. Eksavang Vongvichit, Minister of Health, U.S. Ambassador Daniel A. Clune and other senior Lao and U.S. Embassy officials. |Lao version|