50 Ehsaas Nashonuma centers opened countrywide, Dr Sania told Senate

ISLAMABAD, Jan 21 (APP): Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar on Friday said that 50 Ehsaas Nashonuma Centers have been opened across the country aiming to address stunting and malnutrition outcomes among children under two years of age and pregnant and lactating mothers.

Responding a question during question hour session in Senate, she stressed for understanding stunting related issues.

She said stunting occurred when a child bore shorter height against his or her age, usually due to malnutrition, repeated infections, and poor social stimulation.

Dr Nishtar said that stunting was not just related to the poverty as it was also an issue of lack of awareness.

She said that first nutrition survey was conducted in 1965, which was essential to ascertain the health status of the juveniles of the nation.

She added that children’s mental growth was also affected due to stunting, and it was necessary to know that human capital was the most precious reserve as it cost 60 per cent of total human wealth.

She said: “Addressing stunting is very essential and the government’s main programme name has been set Ehsaas Nashonuma (nutrition).”

The SAPM invited the parliamentarians to visit the Ehsaas center established at G-7 Sitara Market. “The National Nutrition Survey gives only information for children below 5 year. We do not have any data for children of 6-10 years. Among children less than 5 years, anemia is 53.7% and stunting is 40.2% as per NNS 2018,” the SAPM mentioned.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said that the government was aware that the country was suffering from huge burden of malnutrition.

In a written reply the Ministry of National Health, Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSR&C) said that recently as per directions of the Prime Minister and guidance of the National Health Task Force, a comprehensive Nutrition PC-1 for the entire country including the federal areas with the title, “Tackling Malnutrition induced Stunting in Pakistan” has been prepared.

“This PC-1 targets population especially mothers and children in 67 high burden districts of the country. This PC-1 has been prepared after thorough consultation with the provinces and has also been endorsed by the Council of Common Interest (CCI),” it said.

The PC-1 was approved by the Planning Commission in the CDWP meeting held on 24 May, 2021. Moreover, the PC-1 is waiting release of necessary funds for implementation.

However multiple initiatives were initiated through the Nutrition Wing, Ministry of NHSR&C during past 5 years in collaboration with Provincial Departments of Health, UN Agencies and malnutrition among the most vulnerable especially children.