SAPM Dr Sania Nishtar chaired the introductory meeting of Ehsaas Nashonuma steering committee at Ehsaas’ premises. At the meeting, two federal ministries and six provincial ministries came to the table along with Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, the World Bank, World Food Programme, World Health Organization, Asian Development Bank, UNICEF, Federal Expanded Programme for Immunization and Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund and Nashonuma operations team from BISP.
The steering committee members were briefed on the progress of Ehsaas Nashonuma programme that is being implemented in partnership with the provinces and World Food Programme. Alongside, the steering committee’s ToRs, strategic avenues for scaling up the programme, lessons from the first phase, priorities for quality enhancements, adaptations and integrations introduced in the design and roll out of the programme were discussed. The committee also discussed coordination of nutrition specific programmes at the federal level to ensure cross-country, cross-ministerial, inter-sectoral and inter-provincial collaboration for prevention of stunting and malnutrition among children. Nashonuma is a 3-year programme that delivers conditional cash transfers to the vulnerable pregnant women and mothers with children under two years, linked to the consumption of specialized nutritious food, immunizations, and attendance of health awareness sessions.
Turning policy into action, 48 Ehsaas Nashonuma Centres across 13 districts are being established countrywide at the district and Tehsil level health facilities to provide all the services under one roof through the programme. In keeping with geographical spread out of Balochistan, the Nashonuma Centres are also being opened at the basic health unit level to ensure easy access to the facility.
Reflecting on the expansion of the first phase from 7 to 13 of the nutritionally vulnerable districts in the country, Dr. Sania stated, “The first phase of Ehsaas Nashonuma provides a solid, context-driven and scalable model for integrating nutrition-sensitive approaches within social protection platforms. The expansion of the programme will be anchored upon the lessons from the field, operational reviews and impact assessments that have been embedded in the conceptualization and design of Ehsaas Nashonuma. The policy action is envisaged to address high rates of malnutrition in Pakistan where the highest burden is within the poorest segments of the population. Continuing, she said, “To enhance the programmatic and awareness outcomes of the Ehsaas Nashonuma in an effective manner, it is highly important to focus on the instructional beneficiary centred communication.”