In Pakistan, around 40% children are stunted while in Sindh, the figure is as high as 50%, a recent meeting of the Pakistan National Nutrition Coordination Council, presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan, was informed. The PM was told that the Ehsaas Development Dashboard would start working from Oct 6 to collect data on the issue so that it could be tackled in a scientific manner. Speaking there, the PM said this grave issue had been ignored in the past but now it would be addressed in all seriousness because stunted growth not only affected individuals and families but was a major obstacle in the way of desired development of the nation.
In his first address to the nation after assuming the office of premiership, Khan had expressed grave concern over the prevailing high rate of stunting in the country and had said that stunting resulted from insufficient food intake and bad quality food, which affected both physical and mental growth of children. He had announced that it would be one of the top priorities of his government to address the serious issue affecting the health of the nation. So in the first phase of the Ehsaas Programme, 36 Ehsaas Development Centres had been set up in nine districts where food and cash are being provided to ensure the health of babies and mothers.
At the meeting, Dr Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation, gave a detailed briefing on the causes of stunting and how it affected physical and mental growth of children. She informed the meeting, attended by several ministers and secretaries of the relevant ministries, that in the past 10 years, a number of plans had been drawn up to meet the nutritional needs of children and women, but unfortunately they had never been implemented effectively.
Most importantly, the government needs to discourage the sentimental and unmalthusian habit of thoughtless procreation while addressing the issue of malnutrition and stunting.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2020.