Image: Dr Ben Coghlan (seated, left) signs the project MoU to address undernutrition in Lao PDR
Helping to reduce the problem of child undernutrition in Lao PDR is the goal of a new four-year Burnet Institute project launched in Vientiane.
Burnet Program Director (Health Security), Dr Ben Coghlan signed an MoU with the Director of the Lao Tropical and Public Health Institute, Dr Sengchanh Kounnavong, whose research team will implement this initiative.
Also present was the Deputy Director General of Cabinet from the Ministry of Health, and representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion and the Vientiane Provincial Health Office.
The project will test integrated solutions for the healthy birth, growth, and development of children aged 18 months or less from several districts in Vientiane province.
There will be a cluster-randomised controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a mixed package of community-based nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions in reducing child malnutrition.
Nutrition specific interventions are being applied in the hope of addressing some of the immediate determinants of fetal and child nutrition.
These interventions encompass exclusive breastfeeding promotion, complementary feeding, micronutrient supplementation and food fortification, maternal health and nutrition, dietary diversification, deforming treatment of severe wasting, and the management of infectious diseases.
Nutrition-sensitive interventions address the underlying determinants: food security; social and care behaviours at maternal, household and community levels; and health environment and health services.
The study will include an analysis of the cost-effectiveness of the interventions to help inform Lao PDR government policy development.
Funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Government, and conducted in partnership with the University of Western Sydney and Deakin University, the study will run from 2018 to 2021.