Malnutrition in Pakistan causes $6.8 bln loss to national economy annually: Report

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Malnutrition in Pakistan causes $6.8 bln loss to national economy annually: Report

ISLAMABAD, Feb 24 (APP): The current prevalence of under nutrition
in Pakistan is causing a huge loss to national exchequer which is estimated at US $6.8 billion annually (2.5 per cent of national GDP), said a report launched here.
The report “Economic Consequences of Under Nutrition” revealed
that current widespread issue of malnutrition in Pakistan poses a significant challenge to human and economic development effort.
After inaugurating the report here on Friday, Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms, Ahsan Iqbal said the report intended to demonstrate the enormous economic losses from malnutrition in Pakistan and the need to ensure long term investment, even beyond the current Vision 2025 in order to uplift Pakistan’s economic potential.
He mentioned that the first pillar of vision 2025 stated “the
first priority is to invest in every citizen to improve their choices and quality of life”.
This required, he said capitalizing upon and strengthening
existing social capital, improving the human skill base of the population, and providing access to opportunities for advancement.
“It involves a rapid scaling up of investments in education,
health and social development.”
Ahsan Iqbal said a healthy nation was pivotal to economic and
social development, which was one of the major pillars in the Pakistan Vision 2025.
“Our government is committed to realizing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through a collaborative approach between public and private sectors”, he added.
Iqbal stated that Public Private partnership resulted in synergy of resources directed towards a better Pakistan.
The Minister expressed these views while talking to the representatives of the organizations working on food and nutrition at P Block, Pakistan Secretariat.
“Historically, Pakistan has one of the worst nutrition rates in the
light of which Government of Pakistan has initiated many national level programmes to counter malnutrition in Pakistan,” Ahsan Iqbal added.
The Minister maintained that under nutrition was both a cause
and a consequence of poverty.
Poverty and undernutrition have created a vicious cycle leading to
child morbidity and mortality, retarded physical and cognitive growth, diminished learning capacity and school performance, and ultimately lower adult productivity and earnings.
Ahsan Iqbal noted that under nutrition was a wide spread issue
in Pakistan.
Fourteen indicators of undernutrition documented in the most
recent national surveys suggest 100 individual million cases affecting more than half of adult women and two thirds of children.
Each indicator in the report suggests a risk towards:
survival, health issues, child development, school performance and adult earnings.
These fourteen indicators of undernutrition include low body
mass index (BMI), short stature, anemia, birth defects (Folic Acid), non exclusive breast feeding, non continued breast feeding, underweight, weight for height, stunting (HAZ), vitamin A deficiency, iodine deficiency disorder (IDD), zinc deficiency, and vitamin D deficiency.
The minister said that this study comprehensively covered
determinants of undernutrition.
Also, it sheds light on the globally established co efficients
of risk associated to undernutrition levels.
This study endeavors to measure under nutrition losses through
four pathways which includes Child Mortality attributed to
undernutrition, Depressed Future Productivity of Children, Depressed
Current Productivity, Excess Healthcare Expenditures.
He said under nutrition coincides with many health and
economic deprivations affecting child growth and development.
It is not possible to isolate the “nutrition factor” or the
“child development factor” because then it overlooks countless interactions of nutrition, nature and nurture.
Pakistan has put immense focus on the issue of undernutrition
in pregnant women contributes to low birth weight deliveries and Undernutrition in children contributes to impaired immunity and infection.