Islamabad, July 09, 2019: Nutrition is an important factor in the development of a nation. Nutrition contributes to an input and outcome to 12 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) out of 17.
To Review and Endorse National Nutrition Action Plan a meeting was cordially organized by Scaling up Nutrition Movement (SUN) Secretariat, Ministry of Planning Development and Reform (MPDR) and World Food Program (WFP).
In his welcome address Chief Nutrition/Scaling Up Nutrition Focal Point Mr. Mohammad Aslam Shaheen said that Nutrition is a multi-faceted discipline having roots in different sectors and ministries, departments and other stakeholders are working on different aspects to overcome malnutrition. Sharing the key findings of National Nutrition Survey 2018 he said that Pakistan is suffering from triple burden of disease. Besides stunting, wasting and micro nutrient deficiencies, now obesity/over nutrition has also captured the people. He also shared that near 40.2% of the children under-5 are stunted, 28.9% are underweight and 17.1% are wasted the proportion of overweight children under five are 9.5% i.e. almost twice the target set by the World Health Assembly. More than half of the newborns do not start breastfeeding within the first hour of birth and exclusively breastfeed for the first six month, anemia, Vitamin A, D, Zinc and other micronutrient deficiencies are prevalent among children, adolescents and women of reproductive age. He said that, key initiatives are taken place at national and provincial level, number of nutrition programs have been initiated to overcome malnutrition issues. He also shared that He said that Pakistan has developed Multi-sectoral Nutrition Strategy (PMNS) 2018-25 as a guideline for cost effective multi sectoral planning to combat malnutrition. As per recommendation of Minister Health, one of the key recommendation is development of National Action Plan for Nutrition. Todays’ exercise to translate PMNS into action plan is very much aligned with the recommendation at right time in right direction initiated by Scaling up Nutrition Movement (SUN) Secretariat MPDR. MPDR has conducted National level workshop and provincial level consultations with all relevant departments along with UN agencies and I/NGO’s to further refine and contextualize the interventions/activities. Today’s event presence of parliamentarians/representatives shows the interest and commitment of the present government to invest in nutrition.
Dr Muhammad Azeem Khan, Member Food Security and Climate Change Planning Commission shared that Government is taking lead, SUN secretariat with its networks has contributed a lot to overcome malnutrition. Dietary guidelines are available, ECD framework is at final stages and all efforts are commendable. Poverty and economic access is the major issue in the country specially affordability and access to nutritious food. Unfortunately the situation has not changed much since past decade. Different projects are being implemented by provinces and departments specially Food Fortification Program with wider coverage however slower progress is very alarming for all of us. He shared that or better outcomes there is need to strengthen food system and involvement of private sectors , but we should invest more on behavior change for improvement in dietary habits and promotion of local nutritious recipes. He highlighted that challenge is resources deficiency though some allocation has been made recently. He said that there is need to develop right type of strategy agree with clear roles and responsibilities to further scaling up and contribute towards SDGs.
Dr. Mehar Taj Roghani, Member Senate of Pakistan congratulated the team for development of strategy and step ahead to develop implementation plan which is very difficult. The legislations have been passed but unfortunately implementation is lacking, we should work to establish implementation committee. She emphasized on 1000 plus days approach starting from adolescent nutrition. Infant Young Child Feeding practices in Pakistan are very poor and it requires behavior change strategy to be implemented. She also emphasized on promotion and provision of Micronutrients for the vulnerable population. Wastage of food is also another issue which should be considered seriously. She said success is based on working from heart for our nation, we should learn from our failures. She added the present government is committed is work for community and end malnutrition. She also said that accountability is very important and all of us should play our role.
Dr. Yasir Ihtesham, Nutrition Specialist from World Food program said that Pakistan, MPDR and SUN Secretariat have done tremendous job to develop the NNAP and today’s event is one of the milestone to develop the NNAP. He also shared that NNAP explicitly highlights the important link between nutrition, food security, affordability and other associated sectors to improve malnutrition. He also shared that this is the time to focus on life cycle approach especially 1000 days window of opportunity to accelerate achievements of SDGs. He also shared that though we have made tremendous efforts, but still issues like convergence, integration, coordination, access, coverage and capacity of frontline workers need to be further strengthened.
Dr Tajudin Oyewale, Deputy Representative UNICEF shared that findings of National Nutrition Survey 2018 are very alarming, triple burden of disease calls for joint efforts to be taken by different sectors. I want to congratulate government for successfully developing the National Multi Sectoral Action Plan it gives inspiration of what really needs to be done to improve nutrition in the country. Talking about the National Nutrition Survey recently launched he said our population is suffering from malnutrition, obesity and micronutrient deficiencies. It could be only changed when mothers started to breastfed their children. The children who are underweight are clear indication that all the partners and stakeholders should show their commitment for scaling up nutrition in the country.
MB Raja Dharejo, Program Manager Accelerated Action Plan, Planning and Development Department Sindh shared that issue of duplication in projects should be avoided by breaking silos approach. He also shared that execution of NNAP should be clear enough among departments with risk management as an integral part. He also shared that alarming situation of the country points out that there are some gaps specially in management, ownership and integration in a cross cutting way to have synergies with good governance. He also said that we should invest on building capacity of human resource at grass root level to get the plan implemented. Prevention should be focused multi-sectoral besides investing in treatment.
The ceremony was attended by Government representatives from various ministries, international donor, development agencies, development partners, I/NGOs, private sector and media.
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