Thursday October 05, 2023

Mapping of nutrition stakeholders on the cards

By Our Correspondent
November 09, 2019

Islamabad:Even though a lot of work is underway across all provinces, there still exist peculiar nutrition challenges that need to be tackled. These include issues such as myriad nutrition stakeholders working in a fragmented manner with zero coordination and significant duplication. The situation in hand warrants mapping of nutrition stakeholders in a digital observatory style, as well as carrying out strong accountability and clear metrics as starting points for action.

Views to this effect were expressed at the first meeting of the Pakistan National Nutrition Coordination Council (PNNCC) here on Friday, with Dr. Sania Nishtar as the Vice Chair of the Council. The meeting was also attended Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza and other members of the council, which is chaired by the prime minister and has six ministers as members, reflecting both a multisectoral construct as well as high political commitment to address malnutrition.

The participants agreed that the council would overcome the incoherence resulting from myriad nutrition stakeholders working in a fragmented manner with a lot of duplication. The members agreed that mapping of nutrition stakeholders should be initiated as a starting point, and that nutrition is a whole of the government multisectoral agenda with health, social protection, agriculture, fortification, sanitation and water and behavior change and communications interplaying. Participants also underscored the need for strong accountability. Further, stock-taking will be undertaken to replicate best practices and experiences around multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder partnerships.

“The National Nutrition Survey 2019 is now powered for district level disaggregation of data. We have the capacity to target nutrition pockets of the worst and this level of information will help us to target interventions in specific areas,” said Dr. Sania. “Our definition of nutrition centers on malnutrition in all its forms and hence it is not just under-nutrition but also the over-nutrition and obesity ends of the spectrum that we need to focus attention. Both of these co-exist in the same population and in the same areas,” she added.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Zafar reiterated the government’s commitment to address malnutrition as reflected in many integrated actions that have been undertaken. “This specifically requires multifaceted collaborations to build up on synergies to ending malnutrition across Pakistan. Looking ahead, coherence will be essential for lasting results,” he added.

The meeting brought together, policy experts and administrators from the Ministries of Planning Development and Reform, Inter-Provincial Coordination, Food Security and Research, National Health Services, Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division, Industries, Climate Change, Health Departments and Secretariats of all four provinces, AJK and GB, Resident Coordinator UN Pakistan, UNICEF, business and civil society alliances of Scaling up Nutrition (SUN), Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Punjab Social Protection Authority, Provincial Task Force for Nutrition Sindh and Utility Stores Corporation.

The PNNCC will meet again on December 8, 2019, and in the meantime, the Ehsaas Nutrition Strategy will be developed to give clear direction on coordination and priorities under nutrition.