Islamabad - Nutrition is an important factor in development of a nation, while Pakistan is suffering from triple burden of nutrition diseases like stunting, wasting and micro-nutrient deficiencies and obesity, speakers said.

To review and endorse the ‘National Nutrition Action Plan’, a meeting was organized by Nutrition Section/Scaling up Nutrition Movement (SUN) Secretariat, Ministry of Planning Development and Reform and World Food Program (WFP).

In his welcome address, chief nutritionist/scaling up nutrition focal person Aslam Shaheen said that nutrition was a multi-faceted discipline having roots in different sectors and ministries, departments and other stakeholders are working on different aspects to overcome malnutrition.

Sharing the key findings of National Nutrition Survey 2018, he said that Pakistan was suffering from triple burden of disease. Besides stunting, wasting and micro nutrient deficiencies, now obesity/over nutrition has also captured the people, he said.

He also shared that nearly 40.2% of the children under-5 are stunted, 28.9% are underweight and 17.1% are wasted the proportion of overweight children under five are 9.5% i.e. almost twice the target set by the World Health Assembly.

More than half of newborns do not start breastfeeding within first hour of birth and do not exclusively breastfeed for the first six months. Anaemia, Vitamin A, D, Zinc and other micronutrient deficiencies are prevalent among children, adolescents and women of reproductive age.

He said that key initiatives are taken place at national and provincial level, number of nutrition programs have been initiated to overcome malnutrition issues. He also shared that He said that Pakistan has developed multi-sector nutrition strategy (PMNS) 2018-25 as a guideline for cost effective multi-sector planning to combat malnutrition.

Dr Azeem Khan, Member Food Security and Climate Change, Planning Commission of Pakistan, shared that government was taking lead. The SUN secretariat with its networks contributed a lot to overcome malnutrition. Dietary guidelines are available, ECD framework, is at final stages and all efforts are commendable, the food composition tables have been developed and are to be launched, he said.

Dr Tajudin Oyewale, Deputy Representative UNICEF, shared that findings of National Nutrition Survey 2018 were very alarming, triple burden of disease calls for joint efforts to be taken by different sectors.

Talking about the National Nutrition Survey recently launched, he said that our population was suffering from malnutrition, obesity and micronutrient deficiencies. It could be only changed when mothers started to breastfed their children. The children who are underweight are clear indication that all the partners and stakeholders should show their commitment for scaling up nutrition in the country.

DR MB Raja Dharejo, Program Manager Accelerated Action Plan, Planning and Development Department Sindh, shared that issue of duplication in projects should be avoided by breaking silos approach. He also shared that execution of NNAP should be clear enough among departments with risk management as an integral part. He also shared that alarming situation of the country points out that there are some gaps specially in management, ownership and integration in a cross cutting way to have synergies with good governance.