Malnutrition remains serious concern in Sindh: Minister



Malnutrition remains a great concern in the province where this year an estimated seven million have been screened for malnutrition, shared Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho during a press conference held here.The briefing was organised to highlight achievements, challenges and way forward in the health sector.

Health Secretary Zulfiqar Shah and Parliamentary Secretary Health Qasim Siraj Soomro were in attendance.

According to the data shared in the press conference, the total number of children treated for ‘severe acute malnutrition’ last year was 755,038 while 1.9 million children were treated for ‘moderate acute malnutrition’ (also known as wasting). The number of malnourished children treated with complications was 31,117.“Malnutrition is best treated preventatively. Therefore, at total of 1.8m pregnant and lactating women were counselled and referred for antenatal care,” she said.Around 1.9 million children treated for wasting last year

The minister added that though there had not been any cases of polio in Sindh for the past year, environmental samples of the virus had been identified.

“There is success in the EPI programme. Details of more than 8 million children and 2.5 million pregnant women have been digitised. In addition, there was a successful completion of the National Immunisation Support Programme that increased the percentage of immunised children from 29 per cent to 68 per cent,” she said.The target for 2023 was that this percentage was increased to 85 per cent and to 95 per cent by 2024, she added.About Covid infections and mortality, she said both decreased last year as vaccination drives enabled the people to receive their vaccination shots as well as boosters.The reproductive, maternal and neonatal child health programme, Dr Pechuho said, had been completed with deployment of 400 community midwives and establishment of birth stations in rural areas of Sindh.“In the 1,000 days project to be implemented in collaboration with the World Bank, we will be taking a holistic approach to mother and child healthcare. The project will include the upgradation of several health facilities.

The project will include a disaster and emergency response services as well.”The health department, she said, had been collecting the data of all internally displaced pregnant women following the floods.

The total number of pregnant IDPs in camps was 19,745 and the recorded number of deliveries was 4,206.A helpline, she said, had been established for HIV/AIDS (0309-9905553) from the 1st of September 2022. The HIV Treatment & Support Centre at Peoples’ University Hospital Nawabshah had been upgraded. There had also been an optimisation and digitisation of all HIV treatment centres in Sindh.