The News International
Published Date: Feb 8, 2021
Pakistan just behind Afghanistan in malnutrition
Islamabad : Public health expert Dr. Shahzad Ali Khan has said that malnutrition is a huge problem in Pakistan and Pakistan is placed in stunting growth index on 2nd number after Afghanistan while it is the worst in all indicators of stunting, wasting, underweight and exclusive breastfeeding.
Dr. Shahzad was speaking a webinar on “Nutrition integration for social protection and early education” organised here by Sustainable Development Policy Institute.
Dr. Shahzad observed that minimum acceptable diet, meal and minimum diet diversity in Pakistan is poor in both terms of quality and quantity and hence, it must be improved.
Senior Research Fellow, SDPI, Dr. Shafqat Munir said that to create resilience in people both financially and infrastructure outlook is important to manage social-economic issues. He added that social integration protection can be achieved by creating equal opportunities and equity space in risk and crisis management.
Focal Person for Nutrition, Ehsaas, and Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division, Dr Rozina Khalid, enlightened the participants that Ehsas Program has been addressed Nashunuma Programme with human capital development to materialise the pillars of malnutrition and stunting. She said that 3-year pilot interventions are included in the plan.
Aliya Habib from Nutrition International emphasised that other indicators beyond just malnutrition are important at the policy level and work for their implementation.
Head of Gates Foundation family planning and advocacy Dr. Yasmeen Qazi highlighted that birth spacing and mother-child cannot be separated from women cause. The trend that males do not accept contraceptive further adds to this problem, she said and added that pre-marriage counseling for the young adolescent girl and information about the life cycle approach is also needed.
Dr. Danish Irshad from Nutrition International opined that advocacy efforts should be focused on the most important issues such as malnutrition, social protection and agriculture, water and sanitation, and education to improve the existing situation. Media and think tanks could play a vital role in the expansion of the importance of nutrition education, he concluded.
While highlighting social aspects of the issue during an earlier session, Dr Imran Khalid from SDPI termed water, sanitation, and hygiene issues of social justice. Along with food availability, he said, we need to focus on food fortification as well keeping in view the situation of malnourishment in the country.
Dr Nausheen Anwar from IBA Karachi while citing some revelations from a recent study said that the research shows how poor sanitation and scarce availability of water is having direct impact on the women and children. She said that the water supply mafia in Karachi is very much entrenched that adds to the existing woes of water and sanitation in the city.
Head of Programs, WaterAid, Mr. Munawar Hassan, informed the participants that water and sanitation are directly linked with various SDGs. He termed it unfortunate that only 30% population in Pakistan is having access to clean drinking water.
Fatima Akhter, Nestle Pakistan, was of the view that we need an integrated approach to improve the overall nutritional value of our food and lifestyle.
Working in silos and isolation, will not give the required results she remarked adding that we need to educate people how they can ensure that they are drinking clean water and develop water recycling methods at local levels.
Shahid Minhas from SDPI said that at the time when the whole world is grappled with the pandemic, the issues of water, sanitation and hygiene must remain priorities areas to deal with their impacts on overall the health of the population.