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Punjab Government organize conference titled Nutrition National Perspective: Role of Provinces at Lahore

11 Apr, 2018

Punjab Planning & Development Department organized the first of its kind seminar titled ‘Nutrition National Perspective: Role of Provinces’ at local hotel, Lahore. Punjab Government hosted an event in order to reiterate the Government’s commitment towards ending hunger, achieving food security and improving nutrition in collaboration with all the provinces.

Punjab Minister Primary & Healthcare Khawaja Imran Nazir has said Government committed towards drastically lowering the malnutrition indicators in the Province. Primary & Secondary Healthcare Department has the right strategies and programmes currently underway to approach the problem of malnutrition in all 36 districts of the province with efforts being directed towards service delivery and behavior change communication to ensure that the problem of malnutrition is dealt with a forceful hand. He was addressing the seminar on Nutrition National Perspective: Role of Provinces hosted by the Planning & Development Department, Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Cell at Lahore.

Minister P&SH said that the department has been prioritizing the challenge of malnutrition in southern Punjab that depicted the highest malnutrition rates in the province through the inclusion of a new programme focused on southern Punjab. The P&D Department, along with the Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Centre, in his view, was making a commendable effort in gathering all key stakeholders, in an attempt to share lessons that have been learnt thus far for the purpose of devising a pragmatic way forward.

While inaugurating the session, Muhammad Jehanzeb Khan Chairman Planning and Development Board GoPb stressed that it was imperative for Pakistan to ensure that there was improvement in mother and child nutrition. The burden of the endemic on Pakistan’s economy was enormous with Pakistan losing US$ 7.6 billion or 3% of its GDP as a result of malnutrition. Chairman P&D stated that for Punjab the most agrarian, literate and economic province of Pakistan, the responsibility to fight this endemic was even greater. “We must lead the call against malnutrition and hunger, for it was not only about establishing food security, but about enhancing future economic growth and sustainable development of the province and ultimately our country. Economic Growth was just one benefit of an improved nutritional standing of the province-attendance at schools, increased literacy, increased employment and increased standard of living – were all drivers that should motivate us to work together for Nutrition.

According to the HDI report, Pakistan has been ranked as the 147th country to fall in ‘Medium Human Development’ group; a clear declaration that the country’s population was unable to reach its full potential because of deprivation in key dimensions of human development. A major constituent of this Human Development was Nutrition in the country. While each province has taken steps to bring nutrition on the agenda, this momentum for change needs to be sustained and refined – thus presenting an opportunity for sharing lessons. The Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Center, therefore, held a non-partisan inter provincial moot, titled ‘Nutrition National Perspective: Role of Provinces’, which would assist in sharing and learning lessons in terms of interventions.

The aim of this conference was to understand the varying contextual factors across provinces, to facilitate a constructive dialogue on designing effective interventions, and to develop joint activities & linkages for improvement in nutritional status in the country. The conference included participation of all key stakeholders to ensure a comprehensive discussion, amongst them were esteemed representatives including Khawaja Imran Nazeer Minister Primary & Secondary Healthcare, Government of Punjab (GoPb), Muhammad Jehanzeb Khan Chairman Planning and Development Board GoPb, Noor ul Amin Mengal Director General Punjab Food Authority, GoPb, Dr. Shabana Haider Member (Health, Nutrition & Population) P&D Board GoPb, Dr. Akhter Rahseed Additional Director IRMNCH & N Programme, GoPb, Saleem Masih (Chief Health, P&D Department, GoPb), Sheheryar Memom (Deputy Secretary Admin –P&D Department, Government of Sindh), Sabina Baloch (Deputy Program Manager Technical -Nutrition Program for Mothers and Children, Government of Balochistan), Dr. Kashif Nazir (Chief Health, P&D Department, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Dr. Javed Akber (Coordinator Nutrition Program, Government of Azad Jammu & Kashmir).

A panel discussion with the donor agencies was also held which was moderated by a technical moderator Dr. Fatima Asim Shah, Director Reforms PESSI. The discussion aimed to gather technical input from donor agencies in order to better understand the the projects that they were executing in the field of nutrition across Pakistan. Naseer Muhammad Nizamani (Country Director - Nutrition International), Shahzad Rashid Mehmood (Chief Provincial Officer, World Food Programme), Dr. Shafique Rehman (Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF), Dr. Tayyab Masud (Senior Health Specialist, World Bank), Dr. Jamshed Ahmed World Health Organization participated as session panelists.