Children that are well-nourished are more likely to grow and learn as productive members of society. They respond well to fighting diseases and other crises. Whereas poor nutrition has a detrimental impact on the overall growth and development of the children. In Pakistan, child nutrition is in a dire state. Most of the children are underweight and under-nourished. This has a negative influence on the mental, physical, and cognitive development of children.
The main reason for widespread malnutrition is abject poverty in the country. Dealing with malnutrition requires a pragmatic approach to bring economically marginalised families out of hunger. Addressing it with merely cash transfers will not work. Despite successive social safety programs such as the Ehsaas program by the Federal Government of Pakistan, poverty is continuously spiralling upwards. Pakistan needs a systematic approach like China that lifted 100 million people out of extreme poverty through skill empowerment.
Besides the government, the citizens also have a responsibility to work collectively with the government for the desired change. The people should contribute to public work rending their resources to establish training centres and workshops that empower unemployed youth and women in market-oriented skills to increase productivity. This will automatically translate into an improved standard of living and better food intake of children. In a nutshell, malnutrition among children has far-reaching consequences for the future of the country. The root cause is poverty, which can be resolved by economic empowerment and capacity building.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2021.