Scaling up Nutrition Academia and Research Network Pakistan (SUNAR, Pak) is an indigenous efforts of government of Pakistan under the Ministry of Planning Development and Reform (PDR) with support from Nutrition International formerly known as Micronutrient Initiative) to promote nutrition education and research by organizing academicians and researchers on single platform. SUNAR, Pak was established on May 30, 2016 after an extensive consultative process. Currently 46 Academic Institutions/ Universities involved in nutrition teaching and research are members of the network.
Prior to the establishment of network, several preparatory meetings of relevant stakeholders including relevant ministries, development partners , SUN Country Networks and senior academicians and researchers held to draw a roadmap for SUNAR, Pak establishment as per SUN principles and country needs.
Scoping of relevant institutions was conducted with consultation of SUN Unit and Higher Education Commission of Pakistan. Suggestions were also sought from Development Partners for Nutrition Group, UN, Donors and civil society representatives. Initially over 80 institutions were identified considering balance of thematic areas and geographic representation from all federating units of Pakistan.

Vision

A well-nourished Pakistan

Mission

SUNAR, Pak Strategic Priorities

  • To advocate and campaign for nutrition sensitive budgeting at provincial and district levels by 2020.
  • To generate visible political support and commitments from all major political parties at district, provincial and national level by 2020.
  • To develop SUN CSA-Pak as an advocate, influencer and whistle blower for the implementation of national and provincial nutrition related commitments and progress, by 2020.
  • To strengthen SUN CSA – Pak by increasing inclusive, multi-sectoral and equitable membership from across Pakistan, for nutrition inclusive policies and programs at local, provincial and national level by 2020.
  • To build technical capacities of member organizations for contextualizing nutrition specific advocacy and awareness raising activities by 2020.

Regular Membership

For registered academic and research institutions with voting rights to elect Executive Council (EC).

Eligibility Criteria

  • Minimum 10 years’ experience in the field of Nutrition research and teaching
  • Research Institutions/Groups (registered in Pakistan)
  • Register a non-profit research organization
  • Having ethical clearance from accredited Ethics Committee/ Ethical Review Board (ERB)

Individual/ Honorary Membership

Granted to any person having significant contribution in the field of nutrition education and research with no voting right to elect EC or contest for EC Election.
Eligibility Criteria

  • Minimum 5 Publications published in reputed national and international Journals
  • Significant contribution in Policy formulation and nutrition related advocacy.

Governance

Currently SUNAR, Pak network is governed by interim EC members comprising of 18 members, selected by the General Council on the basis of consensus. Representation of academia and research institutes from all federating units and of each thematic categories of (a) Medicine, Public Health, Pharmacy (b) Nutrition, Agriculture, Food Sciences & (c) Cross Thematic, were also ensured. An oversight committee of 5 members also supporting the network to ensure its function as per SUN Movement principles and national laws/policies.

Key Activities

Pak Strategic Planning Meeting

In September 2016, SUNAR, Pak with consultation of its member institutes and other relevant stakeholders developed its strategic plan for the year 2016-17 to transform the network strategic objectives into actions. During the two-days’ workshop, besides the development of yearly action plan, the participants also discussed the role of Academic and Research institutions in generating knowledge base for policy formulation, planning and implementation, Identify research priorities under nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive themes and developed capacity building plan of SUNAR, Pak members.

Pak EC Meeting with SUN Coordinator Ms. Gerda Verburg

During her visit to Pakistan, Ms. Gerda Verburg SUN Coordinator/ Special Assistant to UN Secretary General had a meeting with SUNAR Pakistan Executive Council in April 2017. SUNAR, Pak Executive Council had a meeting with her. Appreciating the launch of SUNAR PAK she expressed that she appreciated that establishment of SUNAR, Pak is a right step towards organizing and utilizing the expertise of academia and researchers for scaling up nutrition. She said in addition to generating evidence through research work the gaps between policy makers and scientific community should be bridged for effective policy formulation and implementation. She also stressed on capacity building of duty bearers for effective implementation of nutrition program at National and Sub-National level.

Capacity Building of Young Academicians & Research

During August- September 2017, SUNAR, Pak with support from Australian High Commission and nutrition international trained 120 young researchers and academicians on qualitative & quantitative research methodologies and scientific writing skills. The aim of the trainings was to enhance the capacity of researchers and academicians particularly involved in the field of nutrition to conceptualize, design and conduct their research work and the software used for analysis and to enhance participant’s skills for transforming scientific information into technical writing reports as well as academic publications.

Advance level of training workshops, follow up of hands-on practice on software will be conducted in future.

Innovative Research Grant

SUNAR, Pak in partnership with Australian high commission and Nutrition International awarded five innovative research grant of worth 48543 USD to young scholars/ researchers from SUNAR, Pak member institutions. The Grants were awarded through a competitive process by the committee comprise of representative from SUN Secretariat, Australian High Commission and experts in the field of Medicine, Public Health & Pharmacy , Nutrition, Agriculture, and Food Science.

Successful candidates/institutions are conducting research on following topics:

  • Exploring the Narrative Potential of Indigenous Protein Sources and their Digestibility indexes in Broilers.
  • Exploring the Nutritional Profile of Indigenous Feedstuff for Tilapia Fish.
  • Designing and evaluation of a simple tool for the assessment of Micronutrient intake and status on a small scale in low resource community settings using modern technologies.
  • Food Choices of Adolescents and Testing the Efficacy of smart Phone Aided Nutrition Education Program.
  • Assessment of Dietary Habits and Nutritional Status of Pregnant Women Visiting Sir Ganga Ram Hospital Lahore.

Way Forward

Collaboration with Australian Universities

SUNAR, Pak has invited Australian Universities / Research Institute to visit Pakistan to explore collaboration with Pakistani academic and research institutions for the promotion of nutrition teaching and multi sectoral research on nutrition

National Conference on Nutrition

SUNAR, Pak will organize a National Research Conference to disseminate findings of researches conducted under SUNAR, Pak Innovative Research grants. In addition, conference will provide an opportunity for all the relevant stakeholders to discuss l their role in addressing malnutrition in Pakistan.

Nutrition Research Archive/ Web Portal

SUNAR, Pak is planning to develop a web portal to achieve all the studies and researches conducted in the field of nutrition. The purpose of the web portal would be to create a platform to share information, progress/ updates and make an archive of research papers/Publications for SUNAR member’s institute, universities, research centers, policy makers, technical experts, and NGO.

Curriculum Review of Nutrition Degree Programs/ Courses

SUNAR, Pak is planning to conduct analysis of nutrition degree programs / courses. Findings of analysis and recommendations will be shared with higher education commission of Pakistan to standardize nutrition curriculum of degree programs.

Training Workshops on Research Methodologies and Scientific Writing Skills

Details of each day sessions

1st day Session- Quantitative Research

Details of each day sessions

First day of each workshops were designated for Quantitative Research Methodologies, actual technical session was started with the introduction of participants and facilitators. Dr. Rukhsana Khan; lead resource person on the subject enlightened the participants with introduction and essentials of research methodology in first session. Thas was an interactive session and all the participants shared their views about research, its types and methodologies. She also equipped the participants with techniques of developing proposal for grants.
Second session was related specifically to research materials and methodology. Dr. Arshia Bilal, resource person on Quantitative Research, drew the attention of participants on importance of appropriate selection of study design, sampling techniques and methods of presenting data in order to conduct the research efficiently with minimum possibilities of bias.
After introducing the various steps of research methodology, participant were introduced by WHO Anthro and Nutrisurvey (NS) and their role in nutrition specific research. Almost all of the participants appreciated this session, as by using these software the nutritional analysis and graphical presentation of datasets became easier for them. This session was conducted by Mr. Mudassar in workshops.
Introduction about descriptive and inferential statistics were well explained to the participants by Dr. Rukhsana Khan. She inculcate the knowledge of statistics by performing step by step analysis of datasets using SPSS.
Hands on practice regarding WHO Anthro, Nutrisurvey and SPSS software were supervised by both the facilitators throughout the sessions. Difficulties and queries of participants were solved then and there.
The participants took keen interest in all the session specifically in hands-on practice of different software. Nutrisurvey and WHO Anthro were new for most of the participants and all of them enjoyed doing hands on practice.
Participants were given presentations and handouts, data sets for practice computer and web & internet resources in a USB provided by SUNAR, secretariat. (Pre & posttest results are attached in Annexure 5)

2nd day Session-Qualitative Research

Second day session in each workshop was designated for qualitative research methodologies. Dr. Hanna Mahmood; Director International Research Force/MNCHRN leaded the session. The goal of the session was to establish an understanding of qualitative research on nutrition with focus on the different kind of methodologies employed and the software used to support qualitative data analysis.

The content of the workshop included the following:
• Defining what qualitative research is;
• Methodologies of qualitative with respect to nutrition;
• Data management; and
• Data analysis.
All sessions across all workshops were interactive with active involvement of the participants making them understand the concept of the subject matter. Case scenarios and examples were put forth and participants were encouraged to provide input. Any queries among the participants were dealt with at the moment so that clarity was obtained across the halls.
While discussing the qualitative research methodologies, audio visual aids were used describing the phenomenon in detail. These videos focused on the methods of conducting in-depth interviews and focus group discussions. Two types of videos were shown against each method. The first method was an incorrect one after the end of which the participants were asked one by one to highlight the issues with it. The second video for each method was the correct one which showed that all the issues with the first one were managed.
While discussion various topics on the subject, examples based on the facilitator’s own research experience were shared with the participants to give them a feel of research done on the ground. For example, in case of development of the discussion guides, the facilitator shared experiences on developing guides for focus group discussions in a project on infant and young child feeding practices. Examples were also shared on how to write the results of any qualitative research by showing various articles on the subject.

SOFTWARE: After the overview on qualitative research in nutrition was given, hands on training on Nvivo was given. The arrangement of the sessions was done such they were all organized in computer labs such that each participant had his/her own system to work on. The trial version of Nvivo 11
10 Pro was installed in all the systems prior to the workshops. The participants were first introduced to the software by giving an overview and then were shown the software interface and the terminologies while using the software were explained. A sample project was then used to train the participants.

3rd day Session-Technical/Scientific Writing Skills

Third and last day session were facilitated by team from Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS), Dr. Kashif Shafique; Associate Prof & Principal, School of Public Health, Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, Pakistan and Dr. Nilofer Fatimi Safdar; Associate Prof & Program Director, Nutritional Sciences.
The objective 3rd day sessions were i) to enhance participant’s skills for transforming scientific information into technical writing reports as well as academic publications, ii) to enhance the position of participants as the trained scientific writer for peer-reviewed research in the science of food, nutrition, and public health, iii) to provide a resource material and guidance for researchers to ensure quality and accuracy of reporting in the scientific journals, and finally, iii) to be able to write a well-structured scientific/technical paper in line with peer review journal reviewers and editors in the area of health sciences.
The training program included participatory and consultative approach that emphasized a systematic use of proven techniques in scientific writing and paper publication process by engaging the participants and doing few exercises to comprehend different components of scientific paper. The session included three parts which were led by facilitators highlighting first a brief background on advantages of scientific writing, the gaps in research and publication in nutritional sciences and the factors that has hindered nutrition related scientific publication from Pakistan. The subsequent session detailed out training on literature Search, plagiarism & referencing needs and software usage for writing scientific manuscript. The final session walked the participant through the various steps required in writing a scientific manuscript ready for journal submission through ‘hands-on-experience’ teaching modality.

Draft Annual Work Plan 2018

SUNAR, Pak Executive Council Member

SUNAR, Pak TOR

SUNAR, Research Priorities Form

SUNAR, Research Priorities

Research Studies Detail Report

  • Dr Ejaz AI Platform HSA Final Report[12959] Download
  • Final Report_Dr Rameeza Download
  • Final Report_Dr.Fehmida BZU Download
  • Final_NJawed- SUNAR report Download
  • Project Report_Dr Shafqat_UVAS Download