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May 17, 2018

Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy launched


May 17, 2018

Islamabad: The Planning Commission with the support of the World Food Programme on Wednesday launched the Pakistan Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy 2018-25 (PMNS) to address the nutrition issue facing the country.

The document was developed through a consultative process, involving national and sub-national level stakeholders, and was linked with the provincial Inter-Sectoral Nutrition Strategies, aligned with the Pakistan Vision 2025 and Sustainable Development Goals.

Prepared taking inputs of all the sectors, the strategy guides and provides an overarching framework for developing a strategy plan for increased coverage or scaled up equitable and high-quality nutrition services including both sensitive and specific interventions.

Addressing the launching ceremony, Country Director of World Food Programme Finbarr Curran said Pakistan, as a Scale up Nutrition (SUN) country had been striving to improve nutrition indicators and the government had taken many positive strides in this regard.

He, however, said ensuring good nutrition was not a responsibility of just one entity or a sector, instead, it involved a wide range of partners working together to achieve results. Member (Food Security and Climate Change) at the Planning Commission Dr Muhammad Azeem Khan appreciated the importance of the PMNS, which, he said, was very timely when federal government was fully sensitized about the situation of malnutrition and its impact on economic growth.

He said to improve nutrition situation, an amount of Rs10 billion had been earmarked in PSDP 2018-19. The member called for utilising the budgeted amount on interventions identified in the PMNS.

He acknowledged participation and support from provinces and line ministries, donors, UN, Nutrition Development partners, INGO's and civil society who have been associated actively in the development of strategy and will be helpful in implementation.

Chief Nutrition, Focal Point SUN Pakistan Aslam Shaheen said the PMNS had been developed through an extensive process with provincial governments and all stakeholders. "We all stakeholders have to work together to implement this strategy to overcome malnutrition, which is widely prevalent and causing 3% GDP loss annually," he said.

He said nutrition was on top of the development agenda with the federal government and provincial governments investing on nutrition. Director (Nutrition) of Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (MNHSRC) Dr Baseer Khan Achakzai said PMNS provides clear road map and suggests practical intervention for addressing malnutrition.

He said the advocacy for nutrition had been adequately promoted and everybody was discussing issues around nutrition. "It is encouraging that Planning Commission and MNHSRC have been on same page for handling malnutrition and PMNS will serve as a guiding document," he added.

National Programme Officer SUN Secretariat Dr Sadaf Sardar presented the PMNS salient features and said after the devolution the federating units developed their own inter-sectoral, integrated nutrition strategies, however, owing to the urgency for an effective and timely response to the Pakistan Vision 2025 and global commitments, besides, AJK, FATA, Gilgit-Baltistan and ICT were in need of programmatic support in multi-sectoral nutrition interventions to overcome the burden of malnutrition through national structures.

Secretary of the Ministry of Planning Development and Reform Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui said the government was fully committed to overcome issue of malnutrition and save its future generation from getting into cognitive and physical malnourishments.

He said besides ongoing nutrition development projects, more than Rs10 billion had also been allocated in the current PSDP for the purpose which could be increased if required. Appreciating and owing to the urgency for an effective and timely response to the Pakistan Vision 2025, he said with the launch of this strategy the need for long awaited comprehensive framework has been fulfilled and this document will facilitate all stakeholders to discharge their responsibilities with more clarity.

He said malnutrition was a multi-faceted issue with its solution lying in concerted efforts of diverse sectors, which were engaged in multi-sectoral planning, sectoral implementation and multi-sectoral monitoring, accountability and learning.

"This requires an enabling environment to shape political, institutional and policy processes for improved nutrition in the country. Pakistan is among the fast growing economies of the world with exciting economic growth rates and yet, the burden of malnutrition has not much improved over the decades," he said.

The secretary said malnutrition not only adversely impacted on the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but seriously affected the country's most important asset - the future human resource. The launching ceremony was attended by large number of government officials, development partners, and civil society and academia from all over the Pakistan.

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