Following the successful implementation of the first phase of the ‘1000 Day Project’ in Lao PDR, MMG is pleased to announce its US$1.39 million funding for a second phase. This announcement reinforces MMG’s support for this important maternal and child health partnership with the Ministry of Health, Lao Women’s Union, and UNICEF.
Today’s announcement brings MMG’s total support of the partnership to almost US$3 million to date.
The 1000 Day Project recognises the critical window of the first 1000 days of life – from pregnancy until the child is two years old – in supporting intellectual and physical development. It aims to reduce stunting and iron-deficiency anaemia in children under two through community outreach programs and distribution of ‘Superkid’ branded zinc micronutrient powder supplements.
Stunting and anaemia are major public health problems affecting more than 170 million children worldwide, and more than 40% of children in Lao PDR. The impact is irreversible and associated with impaired cognitive ability and reduced school and work performance.
More than 120,000 children and their families in Lao PDR have benefited from a package of nutrition services, including 94,560 children who received ’Superkid’ supplements, with over 2.5 million sachets distributed. The second phase of the project will leverage existing gains and expand provision of nutrition services, including the distribution of micronutrients, through health outreach services to nearly 270,000 children across 22 districts in four provinces of the country.
MMG CEO Mr Andrew Michelmore emphasised the advantages of partnerships in delivering sustainable community health and development outcomes in line with SDG goals 2 (nutrition) and 3 (good health).
“In cooperation with our partners - the Ministry of Health, Lao Women’s Union, and UNICEF, we are well-equipped with cultural knowledge and qualified personnel to make this significant intervention a success. This is what we mean when we say; MMG mines for progress,” he said.
UNICEF Australia CEO Adrian Graham said, “In Australia, companies like MMG are leaders in this space and are encouraging other like-minded organisations to take a similar strategic approach to community investment with long-term sustainable outcomes.”
The achievements of Phase I of the project were also highlighted by the Vice Minister of Health, Associate Professor, Dr Phouthone Muongpak:
“The first phase of the 1000 Day Project has helped thousands of children combat malnutrition. As we move into phase two we will capitalise on those gains and broaden our reach to many more children with expanded distribution. The integration of micronutrients in the form of powder into existing public health and nutrition programs is proving one of the effective ways to reach children and reduce malnutrition.”
UNICEF Representative in Lao PDR, Ms Hongwei Gao, expressed appreciation for the cooperation of the Lao Government and MMG’s support in leading the way for other private sector companies on scaling up health and nutrition.
“This project ensures that Lao PDR has a solid foundation to sustain nutritional interventions in selected provinces. We have seen great interest from other donors in expanding this important nutrition intervention for the benefit of mothers and children in Lao PDR.
UNICEF has also trained over 1,600 Lao Women’s Union volunteers and health workers in remote rural areas to ensure the benefits are shared with ethnic groups and those most in need of nutritional and health outreach support.
The President of the Lao Women’s Union, Dr Inlavanh Keobounphanh, stressed the importance of the work done at community level:
“The Lao Women’s Union will continue to provide expertise and support to the 1000 Day Project on the ground. Our role as nutrition counsellors explains the significant nutrition benefits of micronutrient supplements to mothers and provides a critical link in how best they can integrate the nutrition powder into the diets of their children.”
MMG operates and develops copper, zinc and other base metals projects across Australia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lao PDR, and Peru. MMG is committed to investing in local infrastructure, health, education, and business development in the local communities in which it operates.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything it does. Together with its partners, UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. In Australia, UNICEF works with government and advocate bodies to defend children’s rights and support international development programs. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
For more information about UNICEF Australia and its work visit: www.unicef.org.au.
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