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December 2, 2018

Proper nutrition essential for children’s growth: experts


December 2, 2018

PESHAWAR: Speakers at a dialogue on Saturday termed good nutrition during the first 1,000 days a window period, which can improve a child’s growth, educational achievements, productivity and earning potential.

The Nutrition International in collaboration with the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) had organised the dialogue titled ‘Nutrition is for all of us – Let’s define those linkages!’ at a hotel here.

Secretary Health Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Dr Farooq Jamil and Senator Dr Mehr Taj Roghani were present.

Representatives of national and international partners, private sector, donors, parliamentarians, PMA and others attended the event.

Additional Director Health Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Dr Saleem Khan Medical Education Specialist Sindh, Dr Nighat Shah, Senior Technical Advisor PPHI Sindh Dr Zaib Dahar and others spoke at length about the status of malnutrition, its effects on mother and child health and its economic repercussions.

A midwife from Tharparkar in Sindh Saira was also invited to the stage. Dr Farooq Jamil said that 68 percent children in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had been suffering from vitamin-A deficiency.

He said 47 percent children were faced with blood deficiency and 16 percent suffered from low weight in the province.

Pakistan has the highest number of pregnant women mortality rate in the globe, the speakers said, adding, the country was among the five countries where infant mortality rate was the highest due to lack of access to clean drinking water.

They said that unfortunately Pakistan had the highest stunting rate in children. They said 45 percent of the children were not developing properly as they did not get proper nutrition. The ratio of malnourished girls in the country stood at 55 percent, they added.

They said girls were also suffering from ammonia in the country and were not get proper nutrition as parents often preferred to feed good food to boys compared to girls.

The speakers said that majority of people particularly mothers did not know about the nutrition rich food and were unaware of the nutrition value of what they were giving to their children.

The first 1,000 days in a child’s life were very critical for the healthy growth of a child and regarded as a golden period, they said, adding, 177,000 children in the county died every year before their fifth birthday because they or their mothers were malnourished.

The speakers said that malnutrition cost the country US $7.6 billion annually, which was 3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). They said that malnutrition affected the physical and mental health of children.

Dr Mehr Taj Roghani said that Pakistan was faced with the dilemma of malnutrition and was even behind the war-torn Afghanistan.

She said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led federal government should concentrate

on policies and its implementation to tackle the issue of malnutrition.

The Senator said the government was committed to serving the underserved and malnourished communities, particularly women and children. She said efforts were required to

produce healthy children and address the problems of malnutrition.

Dr Mehr Taj stressed the need for adequate nutrition to attain optimal health outcomes during the vulnerable phases of life, pregnancy and first 1,000 days and adolescence.

She said unfortunately parents prepared to feed good and healthy food to male children compared to girls, which was unjust and the practice needed to be stopped.

“Girls should be given good food and education to build a healthy nation,” she added.

She reiterated her government’s commitment to invest in human development and bring reforms in all sectors to put the county on the path to development.

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