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Sunday May 26, 2024

Health ministry to launch national nutrition programme

By M. Waqar Bhatti
May 11, 2024
The logo of the Ministry of NHSRC. — Facebook/Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination Islamabad/File
The logo of the Ministry of NHSRC. — Facebook/Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination Islamabad/File

Islamabad: The Ministry of National Health Services Regulations & Coordination (NHSR&C) is spearheading efforts to develop a comprehensive National Nutrition Program in collaboration with the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and Ministry of Planning, with the aim of tackling the escalating issue of malnutrition across Pakistan, officials said on Friday.

To discuss the plan, the inaugural meeting of the National Nutrition Task Force held with Federal Secretary Nadeem Mahbub in the chair. The high-level task force, mandated by the Prime Minister and Health Minister, is tasked with providing strategic oversight on nutrition policy and programming, charting future directions, and promoting inter-sectoral coordination and advocacy for nutrition.

Health secretary Nadeem Mahbub emphasised the gravity of the malnutrition situation, exacerbated by global conflicts and climate change-induced food insecurity and inflation. He directed the Ministry's Nutrition Wing to formulate a new PC1 for the National Nutrition Programme, collaborating closely with provinces, federal areas, the Planning Commission, and BISP to optimise coverage and avoid duplication.

Opening the discussions, Additional Secretary Syed Moazzam Ali stressed the critical need for fresh data on malnutrition to inform effective policy and programming, advocating for the expeditious execution of a National Nutrition Survey. He acknowledged the pivotal role of provinces in program success and urged their strong collaboration.

In concluding remarks, Special Secretary Health Syed Waqar-ul Hassan commended provincial efforts in collaboration with UN agencies and development partners to combat malnutrition. He emphasized the imperative of cross-sectoral convergence, asserting that health interventions alone cannot resolve malnutrition.

The meeting was also attended by Vice Chancellor Health Services Academy (HSA) Prof. Dr. Shahzad Ali Khan, representatives from UN-WFP, UNICEF, donor organizations, international and national NGOs, line ministries, provincial governments, and academia.