A new programme to prevent stunting among children in Balochistan has been launched by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in partnership with the provincial government’s Planning and Development Department. The three-year project in Pishin district will provide nutrition support to more than 20,000 pregnant and nursing women, and children less than five years of age. Malnutrition rates in Balochistan are alarmingly high. Currently, more than half of all children under five are stunted – have low growth for their age – and 16 percent of the population is malnourished. Anaemia affects 70 percent of children and three quarters of pregnant and breast-feeding women.
‘The Government of Balochistan wishes to prioritize the issue of malnutrition in the province,’ said the Honourable Chief Minister of Balochistan, Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri, at the launch of the initiative today. ‘The government is working in close collaboration with the World Food Programme and other partners to eliminate this menace from the province’. Recent research indicates that malnutrition in Pakistan leads to an annual loss of 3 percent of GDP, or approximately US$ 7.6 billion per year. Malnutrition undermines the physical and mental physical development of children, reduces their ability to learn well in school, and has a life-long impact on their health and productivity.