Approximately 6,000 children under five years of age in Laos reportedly die every year resulting from a lack of proper nutrition, according to the latest survey on nutrition in 2015.
Meanwhile 36.5 % of children are facing stunting that will pose negative impacts for long term national development.
The statement reported in the meeting on Research and Intervention, Maternal Health and Infections under the theme “Important Elements for the Development of Healthy Fetuses, Infants and Young Children” was held in Vientiane Capital and was organized by the University of Health and Science in cooperation with the Early Life Nutrition Network.
The meeting was attended by Dean of the University of Health and Science, Dr Somchit Boupha, Director of the Patient Department under the Ministry of Health, Dr Chanphomma Vongsamphanh, and representative from hospitals, universities and colleges.
The economy is expected to lose around US$197 million per year, or 2.4 % of GDP, because of the lack of proper nutrition.
“The rate of stunting has been recorded as high as 40 per cent for children from the nine provinces of Phongsaly, Luang Namtha, Luang Prabang, Huaphan, Xieng Khuang, Xaysomboun, Saravan, Xekong and Attapeu,” said Deputy Director of the Nutrition Centre, Dr Ratthiphone Ula.
Four in ten children under five years are anaemic in Laos. Meanwhile, half a billion women of reproductive age worldwide are affected by anaemia.
Among children, 9.6 per cent of those under 5 years of age had acute malnutrition or wasting (low weight for height/length). In the three provinces of Khammuan, Savannakhet and Saravane, wasting exceeds the World Health Organization’s ‘serious’ threshold of 10%, said Dr Ratthiphone.
Nutrition remains a challenge for the Lao government in achieving its millennium development goals by 2017 and sustainable development goals, which has targets for zero hunger underlined in the national development plan on nutrition for 2016-2025 and the action plan for 2016-2020.