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National

May 16, 2018

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Political parties include nutrition supplies in election manifesto

ISLAMABAD: The mainstream political parties including PTI, PML-N and Speaker Balochistan’s Provincial Assembly on Tuesday signed commitment for inclusion of nutrition requirements as part of manifesto of their parties for upcoming general elections going to be held in 2018.

A high level forum on ‘Food and Nutrition Security’ was organized by HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation (HSI) in collaboration with Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) Secretariat, Planning Commission Government of Pakistan here on Tuesday.

Shehriyar Afridi, Member National Assembly belonging to PTI said in panel discussion that he was ashamed on this bitter reality that nutrition and such important issues were not horizons of political parties and Parliament. “This situation will not be going to improve if we will not grant tickets to educated people,” he added.

Speaker Balochistan Assembly Raheela Durrani said that there was need to bring nutrition into syllabus at middle level of education. She said that the 18th amendment was done in haste so coordinated and harmonized efforts were required to tackle this emerging issue of stunting among kids.

Aslam Shaheen, Focal person SUN, in his welcome address, shared alarming statistics relating to malnutrition in Pakistan and the whole world. He said that about 2 billion people around the globe were suffering from nutrient deficiency. In Pakistan, he added that 44% of children were suffering from stunted growth while about 16% were wasted. He, on behalf of the planning commission, Govt. of Pakistan extended his gratitude to the Government of Australia, SDC, IFOAM and all other actors to complement government in its initiatives of nutrition security.

While elaborating objectives of the event, Dr. Arjumand Nizami, Country Director HSI briefly elaborated about ‘Nutrition in Mountain Agro-ecology’ project of HSI funded by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). She told the forum that nutrition was a multi-sectoral issue and should be mainstreamed across the sectors through behavioral change. She added that Mass Media could play a vital role in awareness and policy influence regarding nutrition security. She further pleaded for inclusion of nutrition security in manifesto of all the political parties and stressed personal and state commitments for eradication of malnutrition.

Dr. Azeem Khan, Member Food Security and Climate Change, Planning Commission told about the SUN movement and informed the forum about commitments of Pakistan government in the domain of food and nutrition security. He told the forum that Pakistan government had allocated Rs10 billion for endowment fund to support nutrition related programmes. He further added that availability of nutrition sensitive food is also an obligation of the government under Vision 2025, MGDs and SGDs.

Baseer Achakzai, Secretary Food Fortification Alliance, said that malnutrition was not only an issue of affordability or availability of nutrient food but it was also because of life style or culture. He further added that mountain areas of Pakistan were comparatively more disadvantaged and should be focused by all the actors collectively.

Brek Batly, Deputy Head of Mission Embassy of Australia, appraised the forum that Australia was aware of the alarming situation of malnutrition in Pakistan and also the potentials to cope with the crises.

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