Food and Nutrition Policy

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The Lao PDR still does not have an explicit nutrition policy or a national food and nutrition plan. While a newly created National Committee on Food and Nutrition exists, it lacks a clear mandate to carry out the necessary steps for solving the nation's food and nutrition problems. Generally, the government views nutrition as a family responsibility, and consequently central level authorities have allocated a limited health budget for nutrition activities. The target population for government policy is preschool children,. representing a very small percentage of the total child population.

Nutrition matters are now under the jurisdiction of the Department of Maternal and Child Welfare but this department is in great need of qualified personnel. Even the trained nutrition personnel encounter many situations where they cannot fulfil their work responsibilities because of a lack of authority or because what they have learned in their studies is not suitable for the Lao PDR situation. Nonetheless, nutrition activities (mainly anthropometry and nutrition education) are conducted in Vientiane and provincial hospitals as well as at the district level. For fiscal and logistic reasons, though, the government also does not provide supplementary food to high risk mothers and vulnerable children.