Laos needs to increase understanding of the advice of nutritional experts as well as improve coordination with related centres operating in the nutrition sector in order to see improved results in the field.
In positive trends, the recent national child anthropometric assessment survey, conducted in 2015 has shown a slight reduction in stunting among children less than five years of age from 44 percent in 2011 to 36 percent in 2015.
However the survey results also highlight problems in relation to coordination between related centres of nutrition and other departments, particularly in relation to reporting by health and nutrition staff working at the local level.
Deputy Minister of Health, Associate Prof. Dr Phouthone Muongpak spoke on the issue recently at an advocacy workshop on Social and Behaviour Change Communication( SBCC).
The workshop came under the auspices of the Techinal Working Group and Taskfoce on SBCC for Improved Health and Nutrition, which after a review of the implementation in the sector, moved to establish the committee of the SBCC.
In order to facilitate the adoption of recommended nutrition practices it is necessary to understand the full range of determinants of the target behaviours, officials noted at the workshop.
Prof. Dr Phouthone said the Lao government has a strategy for the National Nutrition Committee and its Secretariat to implement the National Nutrition Strategy 2016-2025 and National Plan of Action for Nutrition 2016-2020. The national nutrition strategy and plan of action provide the roadmap for what needs to be done at scale, by whom and by when. SBCC is the process by which more improvement can be achieved and sustained, he said. .
The 10 percentage point reduction in stunting over the past four years is a good sign that if we accelerate progress the goal of graduating from least development country status can be achieved since nutrition is one of the graduation criteria, he added
UNICEF Representative to Laos Ms Hongwei Gao said the objective of the SBCC is to improve nutrition outcomes through more healthful individual and group behaviours as well as strengthening the social context, systems and processes that underpin nutrition.
Unlike nutrition or health education, SBCC relies on social marketing practices whereby effective communication strategies rely on formative research with target populations to understand the context, the issue from their perspective, and factors that influence improved practices, she said.
I understand that some of you will participate in a training workshop later this week where you will learn about the process used to bring about social and behaviour change using various communication methods, modalities and channels, Ms Hongwei added.
She explained that the role of the SBCC is to establish a conducive environment for change by influencing legislation, policies, and strategies that support efforts of communities and individuals to change their behaviour.
Source: Vientiane Times