Empowering women lawyers to defeat micronutrient deficiencies

January 18, 2020

Rawalpindi : In a bid to empower female lawyers on the legal framework of consumer protection and food fortification, TheNetwork for Consumer Protection, in collaboration with the Global Alliance...

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Rawalpindi : In a bid to empower female lawyers on the legal framework of consumer protection and food fortification, TheNetwork for Consumer Protection, in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), arranged a one-day orientation session here on Friday.

Facilitated by Farzana Aziz, the newly elected Rawalpindi Bar Joint Secretary, the event was attended by over two dozen active female lawyers.

Speaking on the occasion, the CEO of TheNetwork Nadeem Iqbal said, comprehensive food fortification requires a mixed approach incorporating three provincial laws—food fortification, consumer protection, and right to information—as these are needed for consumer complaint redress and judicial review of regulatory mechanisms.

“While consumer protection law has a focus at deceptive marketing, food fortification provides for the implementation of standards for food fortification and periodic laboratory testing; the right to information law can be used by lawyers to gather evidence to consolidate their cases if food standards are not complied with,” Nadeem explained.

Consumers can also lodge complaints related to violation of food standards. Furthermore, any person can make an application in writing to the Food Safety Officer (an official of the food authority) asking him to purchase a sample of the food item to get it analyzed. It is the responsibility of the food safety officer to take action in case of a standard’s violation, he said. He said, lawyers have a crucial and dynamic role in assisting consumers to get justice.

Farzana Aziz event thanked TheNetwork for organizing an activity which will empower them in understanding the perspective of consumer protection. “In the end, we all are consumers and can get our due rights by using relevant forums and laws. The lawyers’ community is your partner in the fight against malnutrition and we will fully support the initiatives of TheNetwork in eradicating malnutrition,” she added.

Faiz Rasool, Head of Programmes at GAIN said, the current nutrition crisis can be tackled by using a multi-pronged strategy. He stated, “We need to use multiple approaches as ten years ago, a single serving of food such as spinach had enough nutrients to fulfill a person’s daily requirements, but today, we would need more than 80 servings to receive similar nutritional value from food, as the nutritional value of food itself has dropped drastically.” He said lawyers have a vital role to play in improving the nutritional status of our country.

Dr. Maria Ahmad Qureshi, a public health expert, shared the current nutritional situation of Pakistan. Quoting figures from National Nutrional Survey 2018, she said 40% or 12 million children under the age of five are stunted whereas 29% are underweight and 17.7% are affected by wasting due to malnutrition. She said, micronutrient deficiencies are also predominant with more than 50% children affected by vitamin A deficiency, 62% by vitamin D deficiency along with various other essential vitamins and minerals. Children living in rural areas need more attention as they are more malnourished compared to children residing in urban areas.



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