A new study in Pakistan has revealed a 15 percent reduction in stunting and 33 percent reduction in wasting in children at 24 months as a result of specialized nutritious foods (SNF), cash-based transfers, and social and behavioral change communication (SBCC).
The joint study by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), the Aga Khan University, and the Integrated Reproductive Maternal Newborn, Child Health & Nutrition Program (IRMNCH&NP), focused on the impact of the in-kind provisions to prevent stunting among children aged between six and 23 months.
Funded by support from the Government of Germany, the study was conducted in the Rahim Yar Khan district of Punjab province between December 2016 and November 2019.
In her opening remarks, Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation stated, “Child stunting is a double-edged sword and remains a major barrier to the human capital development. It is linked to a number of factors including quality of water, sanitation and agricultural in contaminations etc. Within framework of Ehsaas, this new study will guide design and implementation of all nutrition specific policies and interventions on the basis of evidence.”
Speaking at the launch of the study’s results, WFP Representative and Country Director Finbarr Curran said that the “funding provided by the Economic Cooperation and Development Section, Government of Germany has not only helped generate crucial evidence on prevention of stunting in the country, but has also enabled WFP to present a concrete investment case for leveraging the social protection system to address malnutrition”.
Stunting prevention programmes leveraging the existing social protection and health systems are a proven cost-effective method to protect mothers and children from malnutrition through access to high quality and age-appropriate nutritious foods in vulnerable countries such as Pakistan.
During the study, the interventions were delivered through the existing health and social protection systems of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and the Ministry of Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation and the Integrated Reproductive Maternal Newborn, Child Health & Nutrition Program (IRMNCH&NP), Government of Punjab.
The event was attended by Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation/BISP Chairperson, Dr. Ali Raza Bhutta, Secretary of Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation/BISP, Dr. Mukhtar Hussain Program Director for IRMNCH&NP Punjab, representatives from the Aga Khan University and the UN.
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