Islamabad - The government of Pakistan sees adequate nutrition as a key ingredient for overall development and has agreed with donors and development partners to develop federal and provincial nutrition plans of action, said SUN Academia and Research Network.

The Advisory Group meeting of SUN Academia and Research Network (SUN ARN) was held in Islamabad under the chairmanship of Dr Mubarik Ali, Member Food Security and Climate Change Planning Commission of Pakistan.

Delivering welcome remarks, Dr Mubarik said the SUN Academia & Research Network is an indigenous effort from Pakistan to organise and utilise the expertise of academia and researchers for scaling up nutrition in the country. Pakistan will be the first country globally to have such a network, said Dr Mubarik. “The government of Pakistan sees adequate nutrition as a key ingredient for overall development and has agreed with donors and development partners to develop federal and provincial nutrition plans of action. And for this Pakistan is working to establish multi-stakeholder platforms to address nutrition at both national and provincial levels.”

Highlighting the role of academia and research institutions, Dr Baseer Khan Achakzai, director nutrition, ministry of national health services coordination and regulations, said that SUN Academia and Research network will be helpful enabling engagement of the academia with national policymaking processes by bridging the gap between the academia, researchers and the policy formulators and practitioners. Aslam Shaheen, SUN government focal point/ chief nutrition ministry of planning, development & reform/ planning commission of Pakistan, underscored the importance of mobilising and organising of academic and research institutions on a joint platform to promote nutrition teaching and research.

He said the Academia and Research Network Pakistan will “promote sustainable improvement in nutritional status of the people of Pakistan by creating a strong, coordinated and vibrant research & academia forum. The network will also provide research-based evidence for advocating policy and legislative reforms as well as bring forward innovative ideas for scaling up nutrition interventions in the country.”

Dr Irshad Danish, Coordinator of SUN ARN, presented the terms of reference (ToR) and membership form of the network which were endorsed after deliberations. The advisory group agreed to meet biweekly basis to expedite the process of SUN ARN establishment.

Concluding the meeting Dr Ahsanullah Khan, national manager Micronutrient Initiative (MI), thanked the participants for their deliberations and active participation. He assured MI support for establishment and strengthening of Academia and Research Network. The meeting was attended by different line ministries and departments including representative of Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, ministry of national food security and research, representatives of donors, UN, academic and research institutions.