Children at risk: Call to address malnutrition issue urgently

Half of all children are malnourished; Sun academia and research network launched.


Our Correspondent May 30, 2016
Half of all children are malnourished; Sun academia and research network launched. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is facing a crisis of malnutrition. Nearly half of all children are malnourished and this undermines their own mental and physical growth, as well as the country’s prospects.

“Malnutrition issue needs to be addressed urgently to safeguard the country’s future development and prosperity,” Planning Commission’s Food Security and Climate Change member Dr Mubarik Ali said.

He was addressing the launching ceremony of Sun Academia and Research Network (Sunar-Pak), organised by Sun-Pak Movement in collaboration with Higher Education Commission and Micronutrient Initiative here on Monday.

He said that realising the importance of adequate nutrition as a key ingredient for overall development, it has been agreed with donors to develop federal and provincial nutrition plans of action.

“He hoped that Sunar-Pak will play its effective role in addressing malnutrition.

Country Director Micronutrient Initiative (MI) Country Director Dr Nasser Muhammad Nizamani, shared objectives of the network. He said that Sunar-Pak will promote sustainable improvement in nutritional status of the people by creating a strong, coordinated and vibrant research  and academia forum.

Chief Nutrition Planning Commission/Sun focal person Aslam Shaheen shared the vision and mission of the movement and its activities.

He said Sun was a unique movement founded on the principle that all people had the right to food and good nutrition.

“It unites people — from governments, civil society, the UN, donors, businesses and researchers — to improve nutrition,” Shaheen said and added that the government has agreed to scale up nutrition programme and the Ministry of Planning Development and Reform was currently spearheading the movement.

He said Sun Movement Secretariat had been established in the Nutrition Section of the Ministry of Planning Development and Reform which was the coordinating body for all SUN networks.

He said civil society alliance, donors, UN and business network had already been established and an academic and research network was being launched.

Associate Professor Health Services Academy and representing the Director-General Health of Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination, Prof Dr Ejaz Khan, highlighted the role of academic and research institutions in addressing malnutrition.

He said that Sunar-Pak will be helpful in the enabling engagement of the academia with national policy-making processes by bridging the gap between the Academia, Researchers and the policy formulators and practitioners.

HEC’s Dr Muhammad Ashraf said that will provide research-based evidence for advocating policy and legislative reforms as well as bring forward innovative ideas for scaling up nutrition interventions in the country.

Interim EC selected Dr Fakhar Imam Vice-Chancellor of Fatima Jinnah Medical University as Chairman and Dr Masood Sadiq Butt, Director National Institute of Food Science and Technology, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad as co-chair of the Network.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2016.

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