ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday directed his Special Assistants on Health and Social Protection to jointly formulate a comprehensive roadmap on prevention of stunted growth among children in consultation with provinces.

While chairing the first high-level meeting of Pakistan National Nutrition Coordination Council, the Prime Minister said the roadmap would be presented to the Council of Common Interests.

Federal Ministers Shafqat Mahmood, Dr Fehmida Mirza, Syed Fakhr Imam, Asad Umar, Commerce Adviser Abdul Razak Dawood, Special Assistants Dr Sania Nishtar, Malik Amin Aslam, Dr. Faisal Mirza, secretaries of relevant ministries and senior officials also attended the meeting. The Provincial Chief Secretaries attended the meeting through video-link.

The Prime Minister, in his maiden address to the nation after assuming his office, highlighted his government's priority to address the issue of stunting in view of its impact on the mental and physical development of children due to malnutrition and substandard food.

Imran Khan said stunting not only affected children's mental and physical abilities, but also deprived the society of benefiting from their constructive abilities. He said overcoming stunting was the top priority of the government and the Federation would play its full role in this regard.

Comprising eight federal ministers, the National Nutrition Coordination, set up at national level, aims at improving and streamlining coordination at federal and provincial levels to implement the Prime Minister's vision and government priorities to prevent stunting. 

PM's Special Assistant on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar briefed the meeting on effects of stunting on children with multiple causes including malnutrition in the past.

The meeting was informed that the plans, formulated in the last 10 years to meet the nutritional needs of women and newborns, were not implemented effectively, leading to around 40 percent of children suffering from stunting. In Sindh, the statistics touch the 50 percent mark.

The meeting was informed that it was the responsibility of provincial governments to play a pivotal role in overcoming stunting. In this regard, the Ehsaas Development Dashboard will start working across the country from today where detailed data on stunting will be available.

The meeting was informed that in the light of Prime Minister Imran Khan's vision, 36 Ehsaas Development Centers had been set up in nine districts under the first phase. At these centres, food is provided to meet the nutritional needs of mothers and newborns. Conditional cash is also provided to the mothers.

Imran Khan directs best facilities for poor living in shelter homes

Prime Minister Imran Khan while expressing satisfaction over the establishment of model shelter homes in the Federal Capital and the provision of quality facilities therein, on Monday said the government would make all possible efforts to meet the needs of the poor and destitute being the state's responsibility.

He directed that without any compromise on the quality of facilities, labourers and destitute living in the shelter homes should be served in a way that the provision of better food and staying facilities, as well as their self-respect were ensured. 

The prime minister was presiding over a meeting here regarding the up-gradation of five shelter-homes in the Federal Capital and setting up a network of shelter homes across the country equipped with the best facilities. The meeting was attended by Special Assistant to the PM on Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar, Secretary Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Muhammad Ali Shehzada, Pakistan Bait ul Maal (PBM) Managing Director Aon Abbas Bappi and other senior officers.

The prime minister said the government, besides providing all possible resources for the establishment of shelter homes and the expansion of their network, would also encourage the philanthropists. He said as the Pakistani nation had a lot of spirit for public-service, the government would welcome such efforts.

The prime minister, in order to settle the issue of the establishment of shelter homes on permanent basis, also accorded an in principle approval for amendment in the Bait ul Maal law.

SAPM Dr Sania Nishtar briefed the prime minister in detail about the up-gradation of five shelter homes established in the Federal Capital and the best facilities being provided therein to the poor labourers and other deserving people.

She told the prime minister that the data of people staying in shelter homes was updated on daily basis so that it was not only utilized for improving the service, but also shared with those participating in the government’s efforts towards that noble cause.

PBM Managing Director Aon Abbas Bappi presented a road-map to the prime minister regarding the expansion of shelter homes’ network across the country.