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Prevention of stunting: PM forms National Nutrition Coordination Council

By Mumtaz Alvi
October 06, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday constituted the National Nutrition Coordination Council to combat stunting and thrash out a comprehensive national strategy to be presented in the Council of Common Interests.

The council includes eight federal cabinet members and chief secretaries. He said overcoming stunting was the top priority of the government and the Federation would play its full role in this regard.

The prime minister directed the special assistant for health and special assistant for social security to formulate a comprehensive roadmap based on timelines for prevention of stunting in consultation with the provinces.

The first high-level meeting of council, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, was attended by Federal Ministers Shafqat Mahmood, Dr. Fehmida Mirza, Syed Fakhar Imam, Asad Umar, Trade Adviser Abdul Razak Dawood, Special Assistants Dr. Sania Nishtar, Malik Amin Aslam, Dr. Faisal Mirza, secretaries of relevantministries and senior officers. Provincial chief secretaries attended the meeting through the video link.

The council will improve and streamline coordination at the federal and provincial levels to implement the prime minister's vision and government priorities, to prevent stunting and to implement a comprehensive programme in this regard.

The council aims to implement a systematic programme to prevent stunting. It may be recalled that in his first address to the nation, Prime Minister Imran Khan had drawn attention to the impact on the mental and physical development of children due to malnutrition and substandard food and clarified the government's priorities for prevention of stunting.

Special Assistant for Social Security Dr. Sania Nishtar briefed the meeting on the causes of stunting, the effects of stunting on the mental and physical development of children, various causes of stunting and malnutrition in the past.

She gave a detailed briefing to the meeting regarding strategies and plans. The meeting was informed that in the last 10 years, plans had been made to meet the nutritional needs of women and newborns, but these were not implemented effectively, with the result that about 40% of children today suffer from stunting.

In Sindh, the average rate is 50 percent. The meeting was informed that it was primarily the responsibility of the provincial governments to play a pivotal role in prevention of stunting. The federal government will do coordination level at high level and launch special projects like database and related information.

In this regard, the Ehsaas Development Dashboard will start working across the country from today (Tuesday) where detailed data on stunting will be available to all concerned.

Addressing the meeting, Imran Khan said important issues like stunting had been ignored in the past adding that stunting not only affected children's mental and physical abilities, but also deprived the society of their constructive abilities.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan presided over a meeting on upgrading five shelters in the federal capital and establishing a detailed network of well-equipped shelters in other parts of the country.

The meeting was attended by Special Assistant for Social Security Dr. Sania Nishtar, Secretary Poverty Alleviation and Social Security Muhammad Ali Shehzada, MD Bait-ul-Mal Aun Abbas Bapi and other senior officers.

Dr. Sania Nishtar briefed the prime minister about the upgrading of five shelters in the federal capital and the best facilities provided to the helpless and poor laborers and other deserving people staying in them.

MD Bait-ul-Mal Aun Abbas Bapi presented to the prime minister a roadmap for expanding the network of shelters across the country. The prime minister also approved amendments to the Treasury Act for establishing the shelter system on a permanent basis.

Expressing satisfaction over the establishment of model shelters in the federal capital and the standard facilities provided in them, the prime minister said that it was the responsibility of the state to meet the needs of the helpless and vulnerable and in this regard the government will try its best.

He directed that no compromise should be made on the quality of facilities provided in the shelters and that the service of laborers and helpless people staying in the shelters should be ensured in such a manner that they can live where they want to live.

The prime minister said all possible resources should be provided by the government for establishment of standard shelters and expansion of their network to ensure that the best food and drink facilities are available.

At the same time, philanthropists will be encouraged. The prime minister said the nation had a great passion for serving the people and such efforts would be welcomed by the government.