World Bank to help Pakistan alleviate stunting

Country Director Illango, Health Minister Kiyani meet in Islamabad

Asma Ghani October 03, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The World Bank and national health ministry on Tuesday agreed to work together on the issues of rising population and malnutrition crisis in the country.

This came during a meeting between WB Country Director Patchamuthu Illangovan and National Health Regulations and Coordination Aamer Mehmood Kiyani in Islamabad on Tuesday.

The WB offered to bring experts from the countries having success in both the areas to share their experiences. It has also offered to share its analysis on health-related issues with the ministry.

Moreover, a conference is tentatively planned in early 2019 involving the policy makers and implementers.

Illangovan highlighted the fact that World Bank had been supporting Pakistan in various development projects and reiterated its commitment to extending all its support in the future also.

Kiyani said Pakistan’s population is still very young with 62 per cent of the people living under the age of 30. He described the human capital as a driving factor in the economic growth.

“Pakistan is also facing a crisis in terms of malnutrition that is amongst the worst in the world and is losing about 3 per cent of its GDP to stunting every year,” said the minister.

Malnutrition in Sindh: Over 57% children under-5 stunted

Although the recent national health survey showed an improvement from the past with the stunting rate at 37.6 per cent, “there is a severe disparity in the nutrition status across the provinces”, he added.

The percentage of stunted children declined from 45 per cent in 2012-13 to 38 per cent in the 2017-18 survey, according to the minister.

The two sides concluded that work on policies regarding these thematic areas of bilateral interest in the light of best practices would be undertaken, together with designing and implementation of the projects addressing the identified themes.

It was also decided to set up achievable targets to measure the success that would be mutually negotiated.

Kiyani said that a coordination meeting would be held with federal and provincial partners on population and nutrition. Additionally a media campaign would also be launched to promote a healthy living, he added.

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