The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Saturday directed a petitioner to approach the relevant forum for addressing malnutrition and stunted growth issues among children.
A single-member bench comprising IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the petition filed by Chaudhry Akram. The applicant pleaded the court to give directions to the government to take measures to put an end to malnutrition in the country.
However, the bench directed the petitioner to either approach the elected representative of his constituency or the Prime Minister's Citizen Portal for redressal of the issue.
In the four-page long order, the court said that the applicant had raised an important matter of public interest.
The petition cited the report of the United Nations World Food Programme which highlighted that more than 20 per cent of the total population of Pakistan was malnourished.
According to the report, around 45 per cent of Pakistani children under the age of five were victims of stunted growth.
Akram had pointed out the action of the Indian Supreme Court on the same issue and said that stunned schoolchildren in the neighbouring country were given meals in schools in light of the apex court’s orders.
It is the constitutional duty of the state to ensure the provision of food to malnourished children, the application read.
Akram recalled that Prime Minister Imran Khan, before assuming the office, asserted that stunted growth issue was his priority.
The Council of Common Interests (CCI) this week unanimously approved a project to costing around Rs350 billion curb malnutrition-induced stunting in the country.
The project, “Tackling Malnutrition-Induced Stunting in Pakistan”, is spread over a span of five years (FY 2020-25).
The participants of the 43rd meeting of the CCI, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan and attended by the chief ministers of the four provinces, ministers, the advocate general for Pakistan among others, took serious note of the critical issue of malnutrition and stunted growth among children.
It was agreed that 50% of the project’s cost -- Rs175 billion – would be provided by federal government. The provincial governments would bear an equal amount of the cost for the next five years.
The project will target 30% of the total population of the country with 15 million women from the reproductive age group and 3.9 million children under the age of two years through nutrition interventions.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2020.