United States Hands Over Center of Nutrition Building to Lao PDR

Vientiane, LAO PDR – On September 16, 2021, U.S. Ambassador to Laos Dr. Peter M. Haymond handed over new facilities and training spaces to Minister of Health Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith at the Ministry of Health’s Center of Nutrition as part of the United States’ Lao-American Nutrition Initiative (LANI). The ceremony took place with officials from the Minister of Health, the U.S. Embassy, and CRS.

The ceremony incorporated the official opening      of several newly- equipped training spaces located inside the Center, with funding support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Applied Nutrition Research Capacity Building (ANRCB) project implemented by CRS. These spaces include an outfitted training room, meeting space, resource library, demonstration room, and offices for the ANRCB Project.

“The United States is proud to hand over these facilities to our valued partner, the Lao PDR Ministry of Health.  Health cooperation is a pillar of our Comprehensive Partnership, which celebrates its 5th anniversary this year.  We will continue to support Lao PDR in improving its nutrition outcomes and promoting the well-being of the people of Laos,” said Ambassador Haymond.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers, through the United States Department of Defense’s Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM), constructed LANI’s facilities in three phases. The first two phases of construction included a Clinical Translational Research Center Building, Teaching Administration and Cafeteria building, and infrastructure development to provide power and water on site. This ceremony is to officially hand over the third and final phase of the project, which consists of a dormitory, a traditional “Lao-style” demonstration kitchen, and a combined garden and greenhouse. The total construction value of the humanitarian assistance project is U.S. $4.6 million.  In the five years of the U.S.-Lao Comprehensive Partnership, the U.S. Department of Defense, in coordination with USACE, has completed over 20 humanitarian assistance construction projects, and currently has four ongoing projects.

CRS Country Representative Joshua Poole shared, “We are very excited to be managing the LANI space alongside the Ministry of Health. The use of the space is open not only to our project partners but any stakeholders across the multisectoral landscape of nutrition who need training space. Please reach out to our staff to see how we can collaborate with you.”

These buildings and training spaces will be a platform for nutrition healthcare and research professionals to collaborate, offering solutions to improve nutrition in Lao PDR.  Indiana University, Purdue University, National Nutrition Strategy and Plan of Action, University of Health Sciences, and the Lao Tropical and Public Health Institute are co-developing training focused on improving capacity to conduct and utilize nutrition research in Lao PDR.  These institutions will accomplish this goal by increasing capacity to deliver essential nutrition research services at the Center of Nutrition with a focus on anthropometrics, improving nutrition understanding and research quality, and improving coordination on nutrition research amongst government ministries, academics, NGOs, and private sector actors.