Health experts on Thursday called for starting countrywide awareness campaign to educate parents on the issue of child malnutrition to protect them from having multiple health complications.
According to them, as per National Nutrition Survey 2018, the situation is worst in rural areas, where stunting in five-year old children is 43% against 35% in urban areas.
They added between 1985 and 2018 there has been virtually no change in these figures. Stunting is impaired growth and development caused by poor nutrition, repeated infection and inadequate psychosocial stimulation, they added.
They said that the cumulative annual monetary effect of lost manpower hours, healthcare expenses and lower productivity due to malnutrition in Pakistan is $7.6 billion or about 3% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Dr Wasim Khawaja from Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) said stunted children suffer delayed growth and their brains do not develop as they should and asked the authorities concerned to start an awareness drive for improving maternal and child health.
He said stunted children have seven month delay in starting school while they have low intelligence quotient and more likely to repeat a grade of school. Stunted children complete one year less of schooling and less likely to graduate high school, they added.