Lao Deputy PM highlights child health on Int'l Children's Day

08:39, June 02, 2011      

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Lao Deputy Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith on Wednesday highlighted the importance of children's health on the occasion of the International Children's Day.

Thongloun, also President of the National Commission for Mothers and Children in Laos, stressed the importance of health interventions to ensure that children grow to their full potential and contribute to national development.

Thongloun was speaking to an audience of children, parents and staff of the Lao government and international organizations at the Central Lao Youth Union in the Lao capital of Vientiane.

"Numerous Government-led responses, focusing especially on the country's most vulnerable children, are testament to the exceptional work that is being carried out in the name of Lao children," said Mahboob Ahmed Bajwa, acting UNICEF Representative to Laos.

He added that "this work is boosting their chances of survival, growth and development, something of which we can all feel justly proud."

According to a statement released by the UNICEF here on Wednesday, this year's theme focused on the importance of Vitamin A and de-worming for all children under five years old.

Medicines and vitamin tablets are being distributed to children throughout Laos by the developing country's network of village volunteers and health workers to help the effort.

Nutrition Specialist at the UNICEF in Laos, Dr. Uma Palaniappan, told Xinhua that the vitamin-A and de-worming campaign in Laos began in 2007, and is conducted twice a year from May to June and November to December.

"So far, over 80 percent of Lao children from six to 59 months have received vitamin-A. The target is to reach at least 95 percent coverage for about 698,000 children nationwide," she said.

"The provinces, districts, health centres and local authorities are working together towards achieving this target in the near future."

Health experts say vitamin A is critical to a child's growth. Infants younger than six months obtain all the vitamin A they need from breast milk, needing no additional foods or liquids.

After six months, children can also get vitamin A from eggs, milk, fruits and vegetables. The distribution of vitamin A supplements in Laos is aimed at preventing potentially fatal diseases and the risk of night blindness.

De-worming tablets are considered equally critical to child health in Laos, as more than 50 percent of two to four-year-old children there suffer from gastrointestinal or liver parasites -- commonly derived from undercooked food, untreated water or contact with infected soil.

The parasites can cause organ damage, poor physical development and impaired brain functions.

As part of International Children's Day in Vientiane, the UNICEF distributed materials on health and water and sanitation issues and organized question and answer sessions on child rights, hygiene and health.

Source: Xinhua
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