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January 9, 2020

Pakistan to launch Rs500 billion nutrition plan

Islamabad

January 9, 2020

Islamabad : Pakistan will launch a Rs500 billion programme to tackle the consequences of the country’s high burden of stunting and childhood malnutrition.

“We are developing the largest public sector project in Pakistan’s history focused on human nutrition,” said Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza while addressing an event to assess the country’s progress in achieving health-related targets under the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

‘The Health and Health Related SDGs: Current Status and Opportunities in Pakistan’ event is the third such meeting of policymakers and development experts organized by AKU which seeks to develop integrated, comprehensive plans to help Pakistan meet its development priorities. The event was jointly organized by the Ministry of National Health Services, Aga Khan University, Aga Khan Foundation-Canada, the University of Toronto, and Canada’s International Development Research Centre.

Dr. Zafar said, the project, which is in the closing stages of receiving approval under the Public Sector Development Programme, will use inter-sectoral collaborations to implement the 12 most proven nutrition interventions. He urged public and private sector experts from all sectors, including academics and researchers, to join hands to overcome the country’s development challenges. He stated that policies focused on tackling the threat of climate change was another priority area for the government. “Climate change represents a threat to our health, agriculture and human survival,” Dr. Zafar added.

Earlier, in his opening remarks, Prof. Zulfiqar A Bhutta, founding director of AKU’s Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, noted that Pakistan has another decade to achieve targets under the SDGs. “The SDGs are inter-related and span the economic, social and environmental spheres,” said Prof. Bhutta. “Achieving targets under the health-related SDGs and addressing our malnutrition crisis requires attention to be paid to other important sectors such as agriculture, water and sanitation, female empowerment and education – especially that of girls – as well as other areas that influence the country’s health sector.”

Pakistan has committed to achieving 169 SDG targets by 2030 that cut across interdependent policy areas such as healthcare, nutrition, education, poverty, gender equality and others.

The one-day event also included sessions that saw over 100 experts from a variety of industries break into working groups to prepare policy recommendations for the health ministry to pursue.

The event was also attended by Director-General Health Dr Assad Hafeez; Canada’s International Development Research Centre representative Dr Qamar Mahmood; MNA and Chair of the Parliamentary SDGs Committee on Child Rights Mehnaz Akber Aziz; Chair of the Community Health Sciences Department at AKU Dr. Sameen Siddiqui; Dean of AKU’s Medical College Dr Adil Haider; Chair of the Medicine Department at AKU Dr. Zainab Samad; and Chair of the Paediatrics Department at AKU Dr Salman Kirmani.