Cabinet’s nod awaited to expand Nutrition Project for Mothers and Children: Secretary Health

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ISLAMABAD, Sep 2 (APP):Balochistan Health Department after going through necessary modalities is waiting for provincial cabinet’s nod to expand Nutrition Project for Mothers and Children (NPMC) that marked significant achievement in some seven districts of the province in which the project in first phase was materialized.
Provincial Health Secretary Muhammed Nasar said the department has completed its working to expend the successful project to remaining 24 districts to curtail high number of mothers and infants mortality rate for which the concerned authorities have to face criticism for poor governance.
Talking to APP, he said under the NPMC programme the assessment of nutritional status of the children below five years and pregnant women would be done in target districts.
Provision of Multiple Micro-nutrient Sachets (MMS) is continuing to address the micro-nutrient deficiency of all children aged 6-23 months. Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) was being provided to severely malnourished mothers and children.
The Secretary said that severely Malnourished children with complications were being referred to Stabilization Centres established at District Head Quarters Hospital for treatment and follow-up.
Saleh Nasar further told that the continuation of the above programme was its result orientation that helped curtail mortality rate in seven districts namely Dera Bugti, Khulo, Punjgor, Killa Saifullah, Lasbila, Noshki and Kharan.
The children under five years of age suffering from Diarrhea are also being provided ORS and Zinc.
He said the counseling of pregnant and lactating women on nutrition, health & hygiene was being done by Lady Health Workers in Mother Support Groups established at the Community level.
As a result of careful measures taken by the health department in NPMC programme, he said, the malnutrition ratio of under five years of age children has reduced by 30 percent in last two years.Some ten per cent reduction in anemia has also been achieved in a proportion of 50 to 60 percent women of reproductive age group.
Further sharing the outcome of the project Nasar informed that the nutritional status of male and female children less than five years of age and that of women for the first time recorded over all growth
in last fifteen years. The Provincial government has been struggling with the growth rate to improve with its limited financial and technical resources.
He said that goal of the Infant Young Child Feeding (IYCF) strategy is to further
improve the nutritional status, growth and development, survival of the infants and young children through optimal practices.
He regretted that unfortunately some 44 per cent of province’s children were found stunted, too short for their age and more than half of all households were found either hungry or faced threat of hunger.
District Health Officer (DHO) Jhal Magsi Ms Rukhsana proposed for a comprehensive nutrition policy and said “only Chocolate won’t work to heal the wounds”.
She warned that Malnutrition also has a vicious, multi-generational impact since malnourished mothers are more likely to have underweight children and new born babies may have more health complexities in coming life.
She said Jhal Magsi was the most affected district from child mortality and malnutrition in the province and according to last two years statistics some 75 per cent under five were reportedly malnourished. The entire population was at the risk of poverty in this district, she added.
She also stressed for creating more awareness among parents as a balanced food intake that does contain requisite protein, vitamins and minerals was as imperative as other health care services.