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By Staff Reporter

Daily Times

Published Date: Oct 28, 2015

Expert call for holistic approach in maternal, child health surveys to achieve SDGs

ISLAMABAD: There is little or no data available on maternal nutrition status, nor is there a reliable mechanism in place to monitor maternal mortality, said Pakistan Institute for Development Economics (PIDE) Joint Director Dr G M Arif.

Speaking at the seminar titled ‘Monitoring and Evaluation of Nutrition in Pakistan – Lessons Learned and Way Forward," organised by SDPI and Alif Ailaan jointly on Tuesday, he said, "Child nutrition is strongly associated with mother’s health and nutrition status – we need both of them to get good nutrition."
Dr Arif explained that the upcoming SDGs have more indicators for nutrition as compared to MDGs. He pointed out gaps in the monitoring and evaluation of nutrition indicators, which limits the possibility of having data and evidence driven policymaking. Referring to the newly designed Pakistan Data Portal, Senior Research Associate Sadia Razzaq explained that the data portal was an online tool for the storage and dissemination of education and nutrition data. Data has been collated from different government and non-government sources to assist research, towards the evidence-based policymaking.
UNICEF Nutrition Officer Dr Saba Shuja said that nutrition surveys need to be improved by adding more indicators on maternal health and child nutrition. Dr Saba was of the view that nutrition levels are related to behavioural changes and an effective communication strategy was needed to bring in substantial reform. Nutrition is a multisectoral subject, and priority needs to be given to monitoring and evaluation of key indicators.
Speaking at the seminar, Planning Commission Member Social Sector Dr Naeemuz Zafar informed that surveys do exists, but lack of coordination amongst them is quite evident. A holistic approach needs to be taken with regards to interventions in nutrition. "We may have instruments to track indicators, but these are not carried out on a regular basis. Among these tools are Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Survey (PSLM), Household Integrated Economic Survey (HIES), Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey (PDHS), National Nutrition Survey (NNS), National Health information Centre (NHIRC), Lady Health Worker (LHW), which were all designed to extend services. But unfortunately these tools are not utilised effectively. The NHIRC, for instance, was supposed to gather information at the district level and provide information at national health planning, but has become dysfunctional to quite an extent," he added.