LAHORE– Preventing and reducing malnutrition saves lives, reduces illness, enables children to learn and helps individuals and countries escape from poverty and maximize their potential, says Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid while speaking on the occasion of launch of Punjab Dissemination of National Nutrition Survey 2018-19.
She was addressing the ceremony of NNS 2018-19 that was jointly organized by the Punjab Planning & Development Board & UNICEF Pakistan at a local hotel Wednesday.
Dr Yasmin continued that malnutrition remains a top priority agenda of the current Government and the relevant ministries and departments have been endlessly engaged in efforts to address the issue of malnutrition.
Addressing the Ceremony, Punjab Chairman Planning & Development Board Habib-ur-Rahman Gilani, told that, “Sustainable Development Goal 2 – ‘Zero Hunger’ specifically addresses the need to end all forms of malnutrition by 2030. It can only be achieved if no child, woman or man is left behind – regardless of how difficult and challenging the circumstances.”
Eric Alain, Chief Nutrition, UNICEF Pakistan, said, “UNICEF along with its UN partners is committed to support and will continue working with the Government of Sindh in its efforts to reduce prevalence of all forms of malnutrition among vulnerable groups in the province.”
The said event was hosted in order to highlight the key findings of NNS 2018-19, to shed light on the prevailing situation of malnutrition in the province of Punjab, to initiate dialogue with regards to provincial policy development around malnutrition and to reiterate Punjab’s Government commitment towards making nutrition a priority.
NNS 2018-2019 is the largest ever nutrition survey in the history of Pakistan, inclusive of provincial and district level data.
The survey provides robust evidence for programming to scale up nutrition sensitive and nutrition specific interventions with a high level of development and progress. NNS 2018-19 was conducted by the Agha Khan University in collaboration with Ministry of Health Services Regulation and Coordination (MoNHSR&C) Government of Pakistan, along with the support of UNICEF Pakistan and Department for International Development (DFID).
The survey assesses the nutrition status of 40,452 households across Punjab. Children under-five, adolescent girls and women of child bearing age were the primary focus while collecting the data on nutrition indicators, along with data on access to water and its quality, hygiene and sanitation, food security and disability among children.
In Punjab, nearly four in ten under five children are stunted according to the new survey. The survey also revealed that nearly two out of every ten children under five also suffer from wasting, this form of malnutrition puts affected children at high risk of dying.
Around 23.5% of children under five were found to be underweight while 9.9% were overweight in Punjab. Moreover, the survey reports that one in eight adolescent girls and nearly two in eight adolescent boys are underweight in the province while approximately 41% of the adolescent girls are anaemic.
The findings of the survey were shared by Prof. Dr. Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, Founding Director of Centre of Excellence in Women & Child Health, Agha Khan University. The event included participation of all key stakeholders, amongst them were esteemed representatives including Dr. Yasmin Rashid Minister for Health Punjab, Murad Raas Minister for Education, Habib-ur-Rahman Gilani Chairman P&D Board Punjab, Zahid Akhtar Zaman Secretary Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department Punjab, Dr. Eric Alain Ategbo Chief of Nutrition UNICEF Pakistan, Dr. Baseer khan Achakzai Director Nutrition (MoNHSR&C) Government of Pakistan and Dr. Sohail Saqlain Member Health Nutrition and Population, P&D Board.
The survey results are key for shaping the nutrition and healthcare policy landscape of the province of Punjab.— PRESS HANDOUT