Media’s role for public awareness on malnutrition highlighted

Ijaz Kakakhel

Media plays a massive role in raising public awareness on nutrition and healthy diets, as well as advocating for nutrition to remain a top priority on the political agenda and ensure the right policies, governance structures, and actions are implemented to encourage accountability among stakeholders.

These discussions were made in an event organized by Nutrition International today. This session aimed to sensitize the media persons about the malnutrition challenges in Pakistan and brought attention to their important role in tackling the issue.

“Adequate nutrition is a fundamental cornerstone of any individual’s health but especially critical for women”, said Mr. Shehzad Afzal, acting Country Director Pakistan, Nutrition International. He further said that improving women’s health and nutrition promotes gender equality and empowerment but is also critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Women and girls can have better opportunities to earn, learn, grow, and lead when they have adequate nutrition. This year, Nutrition International commemorates its 30 years of work in improving the health and nutrition of people in need. Addressing maternal nutrition is one of our key priority areas, by 2030 Nutrition International aims to transform the lives of 1 billion people – especially women, adolescent girls, and children – by improving their nutritional status, he added. Pakistani women of reproductive age (WRA) (15-49 years) bear the triple burden of malnutrition, with almost 42% suffer from anaemia.

Similarly, over half (54%) of adolescent girls (10-19 years) are anaemic. High rates of malnutrition among WRA as well as adolescent girls, coupled with underlying complications of early marriages, closely spaced pregnancies, and maternal malnutrition lead to a vicious cycle of high morbidity and mortality with adverse maternal and child health outcomes. Nutrition International is working closely with the federal and provincial governments to address the malnutrition issues of this segments through multiple efforts & interventions; in past five years, 155,000 pregnant women reached with 90+ Iron Folic Acid Supplementation (IFAs) & 800,000 counselled with maternal and child nutrition and health, and infant and childcare.

To prevent anaemia among adolescent girls, Nutrition International successfully piloted Weekly IFAs in 50 schools in Lodhran, Punjab, which is being scaled up to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. “Nutrition plays crucial role in economic and human development”, said by Dr. Irshad Danish, Senior Advocacy Advisor at Nutrition International and Chair of the Global SUN Civil Society Network. He emphasized that every woman and girl have the inherent right to good nutrition.