Global Outreach

OHSU-Lao Nutrition Education and Research Partnership

Food from Lao

Malnutrition is the number one health priority in Lao PDR where 36% of children under the age of five are stunted and 27% are underweight.  Compounded by escalating rates of diabetes and non-communicable diseases, hospital-based nutrition interventions are needed.  A partnership between OHSU and the Lao Ministry of Health is working to fill the gap in knowledge and application by providing clinical nutrition education to health care providers.

A clinical nutrition needs assessment was conducted in early 2016 and informed the design of a 1000-hour, evidenced-based applied clinical dietetics certificate program for health professionals.  Aligning with the 2015 International Dietitian Education Program (IDE) standards, the curriculum was adapted to be culturally relevant and appropriate. The 4-month, intensive program consists of didactic sessions and hands-on experiential learning. As of April 2020, 40 clinicians have successfully completed the Clinical Nutrition Specialist program.

Providing hands-on training on nutrition assessment, differential diagnosis, and treatment plan design and implementation enables health care providers in Lao PDR to better treat patients with malnutrition and non-communicable diseases that are prevalent within this developing country. 

The OHSU-Lao Nutrition Education and Research Partnership also works closely with the Lao Friends Hospital for Children in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR.  OHSU provides nutrition education support and training for the three nutrition staff at this children’s hospital. 

Research activities completed by OHSU Graduate students include: analysis of water buffalo milk whey as a potential nutrition supplement, nutrition risk screening study in national hospitals, anthropometric comparisons of malnourished and non-malnourished patients, Farmer School Nutrition programming, nutrition education materials for caregivers and providers working with patients with Type 2 Diabetes and Thalassemia.