Government to Introduce Couples Counselling in Laos

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Ministry of Health (MoH), Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) and UNFPA organized a coordination meeting at Vientiane, Laos on Monday to finalize the integration of sexual and reproductive health, maternal and child and Family Planning counselling for married couples and connect it to the national marriage registration efforts led by MoHA. 

The meeting brought together stakeholders to plan the introduction of couples counselling in early 2023 using the endorsed training manual.

In her remarks, Dr. Chanthanom Manithip, Director-General, Cabinet, MoH, said, “We need to closely cooperate, especially between MoH and MoHA, to encourage the newlyweds to receive the counselling services for starting their couple’s life. With the support of UNFPA, in January 2023, we will kick off with the training for District Health Offices from two piloting provinces – Vientiane Capital and Vientiane Province.”

Ms. Kommali Vilaphan, Director-General of the Population Management Department, MoHA, said, “in many developed countries, it is a standard to have premarital counselling, which will be introduced and implemented in Laos. Still, enhanced coordination will be key to ensuring consistency and compliance with the law and regulations. I believe today’s meeting will improve the coordination between health, home affairs and other relevant sectors, translating into effective implementation and achieving our mutual goals.”

Couples Counselling is expected to help reduce the maternal and child mortality rate, reduce malnutrition in children below five, and improve access to routine immunisation, a key tenet is to empower couples to plan for children i.e. have pregnancies by choice and not chance.

The cross sectoral collaboration will contribute to the implementation of National reproductive health, women’s health; gender equality indicators and increase birth certification.

Mariam A. Khan, UNFPA Representative, said, “From now until 2030, Laos can gain USD 611 million if investments in family planning are protected and made according to the plan. A 5.6 per cent reduction in stunting among children can also be realized, and families would improve their health and children’s ability to learn in school. When sectors work together horizontally, that is where we have the greatest gains for the community.”