The Ministry of Planning and Investment and the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) organised the final review of the 5th Country Programme and the first planning meeting for the 6th Country Programme for Laos.
The meeting highlighted key achievements in the areas of sexual and reproductive health, including the increased capacity of midwives and midwifery institutions, the expansion of family planning choices and other related commitments by the government.
The achievements have increased information and services on sexual and reproductive health for young people and increased the aggregation of data through surveys and research. Some of the research achievements from the programme include the Lao Social Indicator Survey, the Population and Housing Census 2015 and the National Study on Violence against Women.
The meeting took place in Vientiane on Friday with support from the UNFPA. Director General of the ministry’s International Cooperation Department, Ms Sisomboun Ounavong, and a representative of the UNFPA in Laos, Ms Ulrika Rehnstrom, chaired the meeting.
Ms Sisomboun said the UNFPA support has contributed significantly in the past five years to the country’s development in addition to assisting progress toward the Millennium Development Goals, in particular the reduction of maternal mortality. The Lao government will continue to work with the UNFPA in the next phase.
Ms Ulrika said this year marks the final year of the 5th Country Programme. It is fundamental to review the progress and map out the challenges to meet the set targets and goals for the 6th Country Programme.
“Furthermore we have seen increased attention toward adolescent girls, with upcoming initiatives that will continue to be based on evidence-based initiatives for adolescents and young people, which, with the right investments, would result in a real demographic progress,” Ms Ulrika said.
Programmes like the Midwifery Improvement Plan, which trained more than 100 midwives to support women to safely deliver babies, have contributed to the reduction in the maternal mortality ratio. In addition, improved financial management has been achieved through cost assessment studies.
“Next year, we will start the implementation of the UNFPA 6th Country Programme with a strong focus on adolescents and young people. Young people have played a significant role in Laos’ growth and they represent an increasingly important proportion of the labour force, both now and well into the future,” Ms Ulrika added.
The meeting also marks the start of the new cycle of cooperation- the 6th Country Programme 2017-2021. The UNFPA Laos’ new country programme will focus on marginalised populations, in particular rural and ethnic women, adolescents and young people. It aims to ensure that adolescent girls are empowered to delay their first pregnancy and are able to reach their full potential, thereby contributing to a sustainable future for Laos.
The UNFPA looks forward to collaborating with the Lao government and national partners for the coming 6th Country Programme to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, the process of birth is safe, every young person’s potential is fulfilled and no one is left behind in the progression of the country’s development.
Source: Vientiane Times