ISLAMABAD: The next government should devise plant to allocate Rs10 billion allocated to end stunting in children in the budget for the financial year 2018-19, a senior government official said at a round table held to discuss nutirition issues in Pakistan.
The implementation of Pakistan multi-sectoral nutrition strategy and provincial multi-sectoral nutrition strategies were discussed at the roundtable to explore synergies with key stakeholders for accelerated response to malnutrition in the country.
The roundtable was attended by over 80 participants including senators, senior officials of federal and provincial governments, representatives of UN agencies, development partners, INGOs and civil society organisations, hosted by Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Secretariat, Pakistan in collaboration with SUN-Civil Society Alliance (SUN-CSA) and Nutrition International.
Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform Secretary Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui highlighted the resolve and commitment of the government to address malnutrition situation in the country.
All political parties should make commitment for this holy cause, as it saves lives. He said nutrition needed immediate focus at all levels.
He stressed that the PC1’s and nutrition programmes should be fast tracked to address this challenging issue. He also advised to chalk out a plan for Rs10 billion block allocation for nutrition programmes allocated in annual budget 2018-19.
Senior politician Syed Zafar Ali Shah appreciated the organisers for initiating debate on implementation of multi-sectoral nutrition strategies.
He assured his full support on parliamentary forums through enabling legislative environment and additional budgetary allocation for nutrition.
Nutrition International Country Director Dr Naseer Muhammad Nizamani shared the achievements of CSA in highlighting the nutrition agenda at the highest policy levels and role played for implementation of provincial multi-sectoral nutrition strategies and nutrition specific legislations.
He expressed the hope that today’s roundtable discussion will facilitate in identifying specific directions for the future actions of different stakeholders for accelerating implementation of multi-sectoral nutrition strategies at national and provincial level.
Planning Commission Food Security and Climate Change Member Dr Azeem Khan stressed the role of key stakeholders like politicians, government, development partners, civil society and media for addressing and reversing the malnutrition situation and importance of collaborative and synergistic approach for the same reason.
Planning Commission’s chief nutrition officer and the focal person of SUN in Pakistan Muhammad Aslam Shaheen emphasised the importance of the affirmative action and sustained political will by the policy makers for translating national commitments to actionable interventions.
He also stressed the need of cross-sectoral collaboration and cooperation of stakeholders for enabling the implementation of government strategies and programs.
The provincial SUN focal persons from Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, Balochistan, FATA, GB and AJK updated the participants about the implementation status of the Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategies of their respective regions and apprised about the ensuing challenges and future directions.
During the open discussion, development partners highlighted the areas where they can contribute and play their role for amplifying the government efforts and response towards malnutrition. They assured their continued support for the cause of nutrition in Pakistan.
Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination Director Nutrition Dr Baseer Achakzai said Pakistan has invested many resources with help of development partners in nutrition. He said that the government’s commitment and resolve is very much present and displayed at the highest levels. He added that there was an increasing focus on ignored and vulnerable areas like FATA and AJK.
He said the major challenge was to involve different departments at district level in efforts to improve nutrition. He added civil society should play their part in mobilising the masses for nutrition and raising awareness at the grass root level.
Achakzai said that he responded to 79 questions raised in the parliament in the last six to seven months of the parliament which shows keen interest of political leaders on the subject of nutrition.
SUN-CSA Pakistan Chairperson Samia Liaquat Ali Khan assured all the stakeholders of the continued and proactive role of SUNCSA.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2018.