First 1,000 days nutrition awareness drive launched

Information minister says intervention must as malnutrition afflicts half of the population

Our Correspondent April 25, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Malnutrition prevails globally, but nature has given a window of opportunity through the 1,000 golden days - starting from day of conception to child’s second birthday – to intervene for the well-being of mother and child and thus for the future generation of the nation, said Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb.

She was addressing the launch of an advocacy campaign for promoting right nutrition in the first 1,000 days of mother and child to strengthen the foundation that lasts through newborn’s entire life was launched on Tuesday.

The campaign tilted “Umeedh Say Aagay”, or beyond hope, was jointly organised by Nutrition Section, SUN Secretariat Ministry of Planning Development & Reform and Human Development Foundation (HDF). The drive will be run through mass media, social media, and engagement of mothers by regional community health centres of HDF.

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While sharing the damaging impact of malnutrition, she said, this is very unfortunate that malnutrition afflicts 3.5 billion out of 7.6 billion current populations. “Pakistan adds almost 10 million stunted and three million wasted children annually. If corrective measures are taken by providing mother and her child proper attention, care and good nutrition the physical and cognitive damage can be avoided and reverted.”

She mentioned that Pakistan Vision 2025 envisages investing in every citizen to improve quality of life particularly for children. This requires strengthening existing human capital, improving knowledge & skills, and providing access to opportunities for advancement and it involves a rapid scaling up of investments in nutrition, health, education and social development. Appreciating the HDF and SUN Movement working together and complementing efforts of the government and partners both local and  global who are focusing on promoting right nutrition in the first 1,000 days, she said that I am glad that “Umeed Say Aagay” is a citizen led awareness campaign that calls for an urgent action at both individual and collective levels.

While sharing the conception of the idea “Umeed say Aagay” and its objectives Saeed Ul Hassan, Executive Director, HDF said that the objective of the campaign is to create mass awareness in Pakistan about the importance of healthy nutrition practices for mother and children in the first 1000 days through youth led social movement and to promote early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding up to six months and continued breastfeeding up to two years in addition to age appropriate complementary feeding to achieve optimal growth, cognitive development and health for young children.

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Planning Commission Member Dr Azeem Khan said: “This campaign is a call to action to jointly strive for averting morbidities and mortalities of newborns due to any preventable causes focusing mother and child wellness primarily in “first 1000 Days- starting from the day of conception to child’s second birthday”.

HDF Board Chairman Dr Khalid Riaz said that this campaign calls for an urgent action both at individual and collective level to raise mass awareness about the alarming implications of malnutrition and focusing on promoting right nutrition in the first 1,000 days of mother and child to strengthen the foundation that lasts through newborn’s entire life.

SUN Focal Person and Chief of Nutirtion Aslam Shaheen said that this effort will go a long way to overcoming malnutrition in Pakistan and saving huge losses in the economy due to malnutrition.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2018.

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