VIENTIANE, LAOS – In order to help improve the nutrition of Lao citizens — and especially Lao children — the United States, in close cooperation with the Lao Ministry of Health, opened the Lao National Institute of Nutrition and the Lao-American Nutrition Initiative (LANI) on November 14, 2019 in Vientiane. The beautiful new institute, which combines clinic and classroom buildings, was built through the efforts of the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and has a combined value of $3.9 million dollars.
At the opening ceremony in Vientiane, Associate Professor Dr. Bounkong Syhavong, Minister of Health, Dr. Nao Boutta, Head of Cabinet, Ministry of Health, Mr. Colin Crosby, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires, and Brigadier General Thomas J. Tickner, USACE Commander and Division Engineer for the Pacific Ocean Division, cut the ceremonial ribbon, officially opening the Lao National Institute of Nutrition and Lao-American Nutrition Initiative.
“This Institute is offered on behalf of the American people to the people and government of Lao PDR,” said U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Crosby during the opening ceremony. “Projects such as this will help strengthen the relationship between the United States and Lao PDR, and improve the quality of life for Lao people across this country.”
This opening marks the completion of the first of two phases of the project funded by USACE. The Institute contains LANI, a five-year activity funded through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which will help develop Lao academic and research leaders through engagement and partnership with leading U.S. universities. The buildings will provide a cooperative workspace for Lao National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) and LANI activities, where Americans will work alongside Lao experts to conduct locally-led research that can find solutions nutrition challenges and improve nutrition outcomes for the Lao community — especially children in Laos. Ultimately, this will create a center of excellence within NIN, supporting efforts by the Lao Ministry of Health to develop an effective national-scale nutrition program in Lao PDR, and improve the health of Lao people throughout the country.
The United States, as part of our overall engagement in Laos, has invested significantly in humanitarian assistance building projects and nutrition. Brigadier General Tickner has led USACE projects which work with the Government of Laos to provide humanitarian assistance projects and expert exchanges on water management. Since 2006, the U.S. Department of Defense, in coordination with USACE, has completed almost 50 humanitarian assistance projects worth over $25 million to improve the lives of the people of the Lao PDR. USAID’s total contribution to nutrition improvement in Lao PDR over the past 3 years is valued at more than $11.5 million.
Together, U.S. humanitarian assistance projects help improve the livelihood of Lao people, in line with priorities defined by the Lao government. The United States works in partnership with the government and people of the Lao PDR to reach their strategic objectives and help strengthen education, health and nutrition, trade and investment, rule of law, water management, and environmental sustainability throughout the Lao PDR.