Global Village Space
Published Date: Feb 9, 2021
Pakistan ranked second to Afghanistan in the stunting growth index
In a webinar organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute on “Nutrition Integration for Social Protection and Early Education”, Dr. Shahzad Ali Khan, the Head of Department at the Health Services Academy Islamabad, expressed the magnitude of the problem of stunting and malnutrition in the country. He also informed the attendees that Pakistan has been ranked second after Afghanistan, on the stunting growth index.
According to Dr. Khan, Pakistan does not have a good quality of diet diversity or meals in general. The country needs to improve the required minimum diets, and the quality as well as quantity of diet diversity, he added.
Read more: Increase in infant health inequality: What is Pakistan doing about it?
To resolve socio-economic issues, it is pertinent to have a good infrastructure and financial outlook, according to Dr. Shafqat Munir, the Sustainable Development Policy Institute’s Senior Research Fellow. There must be an availability of equal opportunities, and there is a need to create a space for crisis management in order to protect social integration.
Dr. Rozina Khalid, a doctor specialized in Public health and a central spokesperson for Ehsaas Program, Nutrition, and the Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division informed those who attended the webinar about the main elements of the Ehsaas Nashonuma Program.
Moreover, besides malnutrition, a need to improve the quality of nutritious food and daily lifestyle was discussed, such as the significance of social protection, education, agriculture, and pre-marriage counseling for adult girls was highlighted by the health experts attending the webinar.
Ehsaas Nashonuma Program
Back in September 2020, Prime Minister Imran Khan launched the “Ehsaas Nashonuma” program – a cash transfer program aimed at addressing stunting and malnutrition in young children across the country. Other than malnutrition this program also seeks to cater to the food security problem persistent in Pakistan.
Under the program, the government will provide stipends to mothers for two years after the birth of a child to ensure their nutrition and proper development.
Malnutrition has plagued a significant population in Pakistan ever since its inception.
Malnutrition in Pakistan
Malnutrition reduces the growth of the baby and increases chances of it having a low birth weight, and later suffering from childhood infections and mortality. For a country, whose leaders eulogize over its youth potential and upcoming youth dividend, its malnutrition statistics are worse than most sub-Saharan countries.
Malnutrition does not affect equally across the country. There is a clear distinction between the urban and rural populations between the socio-economic distribution; with women and the poor more likely to be affected. Malnutrition is a major impediment to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
Read more: Ehsaas Kafaalat Program to provide financial assistance to 7 million people
Micronutrient deficiencies are also prevalent among women with 50% of women anemic, over 37% suffering from high rates of vitamin A and zinc deficiencies, and a further 62% deficient in iron. In children under 2 years of, age iron deficiencies are likely to affect brain functions acutely and probably also chronically. Malnutrition and food security can cause a drain on the countries finances as social costs swell.
Malnutrition because of iodine deficiency especially in pregnant women and infants, lowers intelligence by 10 to 15I. Q. points. In the global food Security Index 2017, Pakistan was in the 77th position amongst 109 countries, a position which it has not improved in the past several years.