About 500 children in Lao PDR participated in Save the Children’s Global Day of Action

Thursday 12 December 2013

On October 26, 2013 - 500 children in Vientiane participated in Save the Children’s Global Day of Action, to help raise awareness that no child under the age of five should die from preventable diseases.

Lao PDR may be on track to achieving the United Nations Millennium Goal 4 (MDG4) of reducing child mortality by two-thirds by 2015. However, 14,000 children still die each year before their fifth birthday, many from preventable causes such as pneumonia and diarrhoea. Additionally, while child deaths have decreased significantly, little improvements have been made in newborn health. In Lao PDR, over 40 percent of under-five deaths happen within the first month of life.

To highlight the importance of this issue, the Lao Youth Forum in collaboration with Save the Children hosted the Race for Survival, with participation from 500 Lao children. Over 50,000 children in 67 countries participated in the race globally, making it the largest marathon relay ever organised for children.

“Laos has made tremendous progress over the past decade in tackling child and maternal health” said Olivier Franchi, country director for Save the Children in Laos. “However, Laos remains as a country with one of the least health workers at 14 per 10,000 population, a far cry from the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of 23.”

Save the Children has been working to change that in some of the most rural and remote parts of the country, setting up 24-hour delivery rooms, training health workers and reaching out the most remote communities. In our program areas, children are six times less likely to die in than the national average,” said Olivier Franchi. “These are effective low-cost solutions that can save thousands of children from dying needlessly each year. We can end to all preventable child deaths in Laos by ensuring that we have enough health workers and a costed national healthcare plan that reaches every child by 2030.”

At the Global Day of Action in Laos, children not only competed against one another in a relay marathon, they also put drama skits together to highlight issues around child and maternal health. A hand washing station was set up to show children and parents the importance of proper hand washing. A nutrition station was also available for parents who need advice on proper nutrition for their children.