MULTAN   -    Food and nutrition experts suggested government to devise smart policies for long term solutions to tackle the nutritional problems as 40 per cent of children below the age of five years were underweight in the country.

It is because of lack of awareness, climatic changes and poor access to pure foods among communities in the country. This was stated by Chairman Institute of Food Science and Nutrition, Bahauddin Zakariya University Dr Saeed Akhtar while talking to APP here on Sunday.

Dr Saeed Akhtar observed that country was lagging behind the contemporary world to meet the challenges of optimum nutrition at community level, adding that micro-nutrients deficiencies among these population segments extensively prevailed.

They said concerted efforts at gross root level were urged to address the issues of public health significance in the past resulting 40 per cent of children under the age of five years were underweight.

Answering to a question about judgement of health issues, he said one of the best indicators to ascertain the nutritional status of any population group was to “judge the child health at societal level”.

Malnutrition still remained to be one of the biggest challenges faced by the people. He, however, lauded Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan for his vision as he highlighted this very issue in his speech after making government.

Dr Saeed further stated that climate change had been a growing threat with deleterious impacts on human health.

At international level, data was available that more than 800 million people were victim of chronic undernourishment and over two billion people suffered from micro-nutrient deficiencies.

Another expert Dr Tariq Ismail said climate change was amplifying multiple burdens of malnutrition by its effects on food security, public hygiene, water quality and supplies, food safety and maternal and child health care.

The climate change can be considered a pandemic because of its sweeping effects on the health of human and the natural systems which they depend on, they said adding, the adverse effects of climate change could pose serious threats to food security especially to small scale food producers’ lives and livelihoods.

Future of country was embedded in agriculture produce therefore, climate change appears to be a serious challenge with respect to food insecurity and malnutrition, Tariq added.

He informed that sustainable development goals exclusively focus on ending hunger, achieving food security and better nutrition for population in resource constrained economies as well as the countries of developed world.

Likewise, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) had fundamentally highlighted nutrition as a core ingredient for nations to achieve prosperity and better livelihood.

Both the experts suggested long term policies to deal the alarming issues as initiatives would help promoting health across the countries.

The healthy nation would play their effective role for progress and prosperity of the country. They would also contribute for improvement in the economy, the experts concluded.