Punjab going all out to address malnutrition

TEAM MSNC of the Punjab Government which has been whole heatedly engaged in dealing with the important goal of addressing the epidemic of malnutrition has made a significant headway in this regard.
According to highly proactive Dr Shabana Haider, Member Health, Nutrition & Population of P&D Board, several steps have been taken to deal with the above problem under the guidance of their dynamic Chairman Mohammad Jahanzeb Khan.
Mr Jahanzeb Khan says, ‘Under-nourishment is the leading cause of death among young children and pregnant women, particularly in the developing countries. The establishment of a Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Centre (MSNC) Is reflective of the recognition on part of the Government of Punjab of two factors; one, that nutrition is a central development issue in Punjab; secondly, a concerted effort is required on the part of policy makers to ensure that policies governing agriculture, food and water security, hygiene and social protection are responsive to the health concerns and nutritional requirements of the people.
Protecting the physical and mental development of our children is at the heart of ensuring that Punjab has robust economic growth in the future’.
Dr. Shabana says, ‘The multi-sectoral strategy entails reorienting our approach towards the delivery of services and creating a supportive environment for policies that specifically target vulnerable segments of the population. From social protection policies aimed at ensuring food security to hygiene-related interventions to the prevention of infectious disease that cause undernourishment among infants, the strategy promoted a holistic approach to mitigate the situation of malnutrition.
The challenge of under nutrition and stunting is formidable but the multi-sectoral strategy has all the necessary components to match the scale of the problems’. For several decades, Pakistan has been facing a silent crisis: the epidemic of malnutrition, though prevalent since the inception of the country, reached an all time high in the last couple of years.
According to National Nutrition Survey (NNS) 2011, the proportion of children in Pakistan who are stunted, wasted and underweight is reported at 44% and 32% respectively.
Compared to other provinces, the situation in Punjab is relatively better with stunting reported at 33.5%, wasting at 17.5% and underweight at 33.7% (MICS 2014). Nonetheless, the burden of malnutrition in the province is much higher compared to prevalence rates in countries like Sri Lanka, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan and Papua New Guinea.
These high rates of malnutrition are of particular concern for Punjab; the most agrarian literate and economically vibrant province of Pakistan. In response to the prevalent dismal situation, the Government of Punjab, in collaboration with UNICEF, launched the Multi Sectoral Nutrition (MSNS) in 2015.
MSNS envisages a multi sectoral approach to curtail the insidious condition of malnutrition that has engulfed our society. The strategy entails that in order to improve the nutritional status of a human being, multiple factors play a vital role including, but not limited to, the person’s educational status, access to safe drinking water and sanitation, availability of a varied diet and at the centre of it all; a strong and healthy immune system.
Dr Shabana further says that apart from sharing their collective efforts towards better nutrition with several international bodies like ‘The World Bank’, ‘UNICEF’, World Health Organization and others, they have been proactively involved in highlighting the issue through various means. One of its efforts has been to launch an attractive and colourful Quarterly ‘The Nutrition’, which has been largely circulated to highlight the issue.

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