Islamabad - Large-scale fortification with essential vitamin and minerals in wheat flour, edible oil and ghee is the key to improved nutrition in Pakistan, said Dr Baseer Khan Achakzai, director nutrition, at a seminar organised jointly by The Micronutrient Initiative and ministry of health services, regulation and coordination.

He further added that the government was committed to making necessary amendments in legislation and a technical working group will be formed under the flagship of National Fortification Alliance to develop national plan of action for food fortification. Welcoming the participants Dr Baseer Achakzai highlighted the objectives of the seminar and elaborated the importance of conducting the situational analysis for wheat flour, edible oil and ghee fortification.

 He also thanked the private sector for their willingness to contribute and invest in addressing the under-nutrition issues in Pakistan. He elaborated the role of National Fortification Alliance and assured more proactive role in coming years.

“Addressing malnutrition is one of the best investments Pakistan can make on its future,” said Dr Tausif Akhtar Janjua, country director Pakistan for the Micronutrient Initiative.

He highlighted the nutritional situation in Pakistan, where 44% of children under-five are stunted, while 15% are wasted and warrants an emergency. Dr Janjua strongly supported the potential scaling up of large scale food fortification interventions based on successful model of Universal Salt Iodisation Programme. He told the participants that the government of AJ&K was going to launch wheat flour fortification in the region soon with the support of MI and WFP.

The representatives of the private sector reiterated their commitment in supporting the government’s initiatives. Tariq Sarwar, representative of Pakistan Flour Mill Association, shared the efforts made previously for wheat flour fortification and suggested facilitating the millers through targeted subsidy which can be transferred to the marginalized.

Omar Islam, secretary Pakistan Vanaspati Mills Association, also underscored the importance of tapping the informal oil & ghee sector which needs to be regulated for better outcome.

He highlighted the importance to reduce the import duties on oil & ghee sector to facilitate its utilisation by those in maximum need.  

Aslam Shaheen, chief nutrition planning commission, highlighted the efforts that the government was undertaking to address the malnutrition in country and pledged full support for resource allocation and planning of large scale fortification programme.