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Experts call for rigorous regulation of breastmilk substitutes


May 5, 2019

Islamabad : A media dialogue panel pushed for increased legislation on child nutrition, especially in terms of rigorously regulation of breastmilk substitutes such as formula milk, and agreed that more needs to be done to save children from stunting, wasting and other nutrition-related challenges.

Organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the dialogue was held in collaboration with the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination (MNHSRC), and was intended to highlight the challenges and opportunities related to nutrition in Pakistan. It also reiterated the commitment of the government of Pakistan and its partners, especially UNICEF, to target critical nutrition indicators such as, among others, immediate and exclusive breastfeeding, nutritional deficiencies, stunting, wasting, and anaemia.

The discussion was attended by MNAs Kanwal Shauzab and Dr. Nausheen Hamid, Director Nutrition Dr. Baseer Khan Achakzai, Chief of Nutrition Muhammad Aslam Shaheen, and Nutrition Officer UNICEF Dr. Saba Shuja, among others.

The experts expressed concern over the fact that more than 4 out of every 10 children under five years of age (over 10 million children) are affected by stunting, and that more than 15 percent of children in the same age-group suffer from severe acute malnutrition.

The nutritional status of adolescent girls and women impacts the growth and development of their future children. Attempts at reducing the number of underweight and anaemic adolescent girls between the ages of 10 and 19 years has also been slow. The diets of adolescent girls and women are often too poor to meet nutritional needs for their healthy growth and development as well as that of the future children.

Immediate and exclusive breastfeeding is critical for the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It improves nutrition, prevents child mortality and decreases the risk of non-communicable diseases, and supports cognitive development and education. Breastfeeding is also an enabler to ending poverty, promoting economic growth and reducing inequalities.

A healthy diet meeting the nutritional needs of children protects them against multiple chronic diseases. Good maternal nutrition of lactating mothers also contributes to the healthy growth of new-borns. Data shows that less than 4 out of every 10 mothers in the country exclusively breastfeed their new-borns for six months – an inevitable requirement to shield children from many health and nutrition related problems.

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