Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) Senator Dr Sania Nishtar on Sunday launched the Pak-Korea Nutrition Centre (PKNC) at University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF).
Established under the Ehsaas framework, the national nutrition centre, ‘PKNC’ is the first of its kind, meant to address the malnutrition issue that has hit more than 50 percent of the population. Dr Sania also thanked the government of Korea for the collaboration.
At the university, Dr Sania was welcomed by UAF Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmed Khan along with Prof Dr Masood Sadiq Butt, Dean Faculty of Food, Nutrition and Home Sciences, Prof Dr Tahir Zahoor, DG National Institute of Food Sciences and Technology and other faculty members.
Principally aimed at improving child and community nutrition, PKNC has been established at the Faculty of Food Nutrition and Home Sciences at a cost of Rs1.5 billion for a period of three years.
Collective funding comprised of Rs1.15 Billion from The Korea International Cooperation Agency’s (KOICA) has provided Rs1.15 billion while the rest funds have been contributed by the HEC/PSDP.
The project will train government officials, nutrition policy makers and 35 master trainers.
The master trainers, in turn, will train over 12,000 nutrition educational experts, lady health workers, nutritionists and primary school teachers etc to improve nutrition and child nutrition.
PKNC will comprise six research chairs including nutrition and public health; food fortification; food processing; product development and value addition; database and componential analysis; and policy and advocacy.
Addressing the launching ceremony, Dr Sania said, “I am particularly keen in exploring the feasibility of developing a school meals programme under the Ehsaas framework in collaboration with University of Agriculture Faisalabad. PKNC will guide the policy direction to address the issue of malnutrition in the country.
During a presentation, Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmed Khan and his colleagues presented technical modalities of potential school meals programme in detail.
Dr Sania continued that the government has also institutionalized the inter-ministerial nutrition task force, headed by the Prime Minister and there are eight cabinet ministers sitting on the task force.
It is quite unique as this is the first time that inter-ministerial set up has been created to shepherd nutrition.
The Ehsaas Nashonuma, she further added, is a conditional cash transfer program aimed at tackling stunting among children under two years of age, along with pregnant and lactating mothers
. In the first phase, 50 Ehsaas Nashonuma Centers have been opened across 14 most stunted districts of Pakistan.
On the occasion, Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad said that the centre will help bring tangible results in addressing the daunting issues of malnutrition.
He said that more than 50 percent of the population was facing the malnutrition deficiency that is a matter of grave concern. He was of the view that we need to change our lifestyle and food habits.
Prof Jaehan Kim from Chungnam National University, South Korea together with senior representatives of partnering universities—Karakorum International University, GB; Bolan Medical University, Balochistan; University of Agriculture, Peshawar; University of Agriculture, Tandojam; Faisalabad Medical University; and Children Hospital Faisalabad also joined the meeting.