Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Malnutrition costs 2.4% of annual Lao GDP’

‘Malnutrition costs 2.4% of annual Lao GDP’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A child born in Laos today is only 45 per cent as productive as he or she would be if they enjoyed complete education and full health. UNICEF LAOS

‘Malnutrition costs 2.4% of annual Lao GDP’

High levels of childhood malnutrition present a staggering, yet avoidable, loss of human and economic potential for Laos, according to the World Bank.

Nationally, stunting affects over one third of all Lao children under the age of five, the Bank said in a brief on its website titled “Multi-Sector Convergence Approach to Reducing Malnutrition in the Lao PDR”.

“Current rates of maternal and child malnutrition represent a loss of human capital potentially costing the Lao PDR an estimated 2.4 per cent of gross domestic product [GDP] annually,” the Bank said.

A child born in Laos today is only 45 per cent as productive as he or she would be if they enjoyed complete education and full health.

Childhood stunting is associated with poor health, delayed child development, underperformance in school, and eventually reduced employment opportunities, and thus contributes to keeping communities in poverty.

Given the strong association between childhood stunting, poverty, and economic growth, investing in the early years, especially reducing malnutrition, is a key priority.

Long-term strategy

The World Bank has developed a multi-sectoral long-term strategy to support the Lao government to address malnutrition, aligned with the 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (2016-2020) and the National Nutrition Strategy to 2025.

International experience, based on evidence from other countries that have made progress in reducing stunting, suggests that to address childhood stunting effectively, a series of coordinated policies and programmes is needed to address the immediate, underlying, and basic causes of malnutrition, focusing on the critical first 1,000 days of life, according to the World Bank.

Unicef said stunted growth causes underdeveloped brains and bodies if children do not get the right type or amount of nutrients from food within the crucial first 1,000 days of life.

Several ongoing and upcoming World Bank operations will come together to support an innovative multi-sectoral and long-term nutrition convergence approach.

Projects will target the same households in the same geographic areas and will initially be implemented in 12 districts in Xieng Khuang, Huaphan, Phongsaly and Oudomxay provinces, which suffer from stunting levels above 40 per cent.

Effective implementation of a multi-sectoral approach will require strong leadership, guidance, and ownership at central, provincial, and district levels, as well as continuous monitoring and evaluation of its effectiveness in Laos.

A number of intervention projects to improve nutrition costing several million dollars have been or will be introduced from 2018-2022.

They included a health governance and nutrition development project, health and nutrition services access, an early childhood education project, and reducing rural poverty and malnutrition project. VIENTIANE TIMES

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • Is Cambodia’s travel sector in for another cheerless holiday season?

    The travel and tourism sector was heaving back to life as borders started to reopen, promising a festive vibe for the holidays and New Year. But Omicron and other Covid-related issues are threatening to close the year on a bleak note ‘Seems [like] Covid-19 won’

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Hun Sen: Manet to be candidate for prime minister

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has reaffirmed that his oldest son Hun Manet will be his successor as Prime Minister if he is elected. Speaking during the inauguration of a new sewage treatment facility in Preah Sihanouk province on December 2, Hun Sen said Manet will be