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More than 140 countries worldwide will observe World Population Day around 11 July by emphasizing the importance of data for development. In this regard, the Department of International Cooperation of the Lao Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) and UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, are preparing the first World Population Day Workshop to be held in Vientiane on July 23 at the International Cooperation and Training Center (ICTC). The event is addressed to university and college students, teachers, researchers, experts and wider public.

The workshop is an academic forum expected to promote the World Population Day and its 2010 theme: "Everyone Counts". This year World Population Day highlights the importance of data for development. The focus is on the 2010 round of the population and housing census, data analysis for development and UNFPA's lead role in population and development.

Counting everyone is an integral part of ensuring that we take everyone into account. Good demographic data is critical for planning schools, health systems and public transportation, for designing policies based on future population projections, for monitoring the effectiveness of service delivery and much more.

"Generating, analyzing and disseminating population data is a critical process for sound and successful development policies and programmes" says Mieko Yabuta, UNFPA Representative for Lao PDR.

The event will feature conferences and discussion on population, statistics and development by government experts from Ministry of Planning and Investment, National University of Laos, Lao National Commission for the Advancement of Women, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health.

UNFPA works with MPI and other ministries to support both quantitative and qualitative data collection and studies related to maternal and reproductive health to ensure timely and quality data collection and use for evidence-based planning and monitoring.

Population dynamics - including growth rates, age structure, fertility and mortality, migration, spatial distribution and more - influence every aspect of human, social and economic development. Good data is essential for making good decisions. Also, data is crucial in order to conduct social and economic research, which is needed to enable programmes to take into account the views of their intended beneficiaries, especially women, adolescents and other less empowered groups.

World Population Day was established by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme in 1989 as a way to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues. It was an outgrowth of the interest generated by the Day of Five Billion, which was observed on 11 July 1987.

Essay Contest about Data Collection for Development
An essay competition titled "Why is Data Collection essential for development?" addressed to students, will be launched within the framework of the event. For more information, please check The World Population Day Essay Competition Guidelines on or contact UNFPA office in Vientiane (021-335547).

Birth Spacing Campaign
As a side event of the Workshop, a media campaign to promote birth spacing and the use of contraceptives in Lao P.D.R., will be launched by the Center for Information and Education for Health (CIEH) from the Ministry of Health with the cooperation of UNFPA and technical support by Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning (JOICFP).

The Birth Spacing Campaign aims at address rumours and misunderstanding about family planning and birth spacing, to raise awareness of their health benefits, and to promote use of family planning and reproductive health services. Universal access to reproductive health is one of the MDG indicators that too is still lagging behind. This campaign will support local level activities with the use of mass media communication channels (radio, TV, newspapers, banners, exhibitions and post cards) to reach a wide audience at national, provincial, and district levels.

UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.

Contact information:
Diego De La Rosa, tel: (+856 21) 315547, mobile: (+856) 020 77791053,