Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar on Sunday said six Nashonuma Centres were being opened in Kalat and Zhob districts of Balochistan in the first phase of Ehsaas Nashonuma programme under the umbrella initiative of Ehsaas.
“The flagship initiative of the government is aimed to tackle stunting and improve the nutrition of poor children through a combination of cash stipends, nutritional food, medical examination and training," said Nishtar who heads Ehsaas programme.
National Nutrition Survey 2018 found that 46.6 per cent of children in Balochistan are currently impacted by stunting due to malnutrition, with significant consequences on health and educational outcomes.
Ehsaas has rolled out Ehsaas Nashonuma programme to ensure that this form of malnutrition does not continue to compromise the human capital required to sustain the socioeconomic development.
Across the country 48 Ehsaas Nashonuma Centres in 13 districts at tehsil level were being opened to provide health facilities in the first phase of the programme. However, catering to the scattered population and wide geographical spread out of Balochistan, the centres were being opened at the basic health unit level to ensure easy access to the facility.
The centers in the underdeveloped province of the country were being opened in collaboration with the Balochistan government and the World Food Programme.
To provide all Ehsaas Nashonuma facilities under one roof, four centres were established in Kalat at district headquarters (DHQ) Kalat, DHQ Surab, basic health unit (BHU) Iskalkoo and BHU Lakorian, while two centres will be operational next month In Zhob district.
The programme will be expanded to other districts of the province in the next phase.
Ehsaas Nashonuma is a three-year programme fully funded by the federal government. The programme is pegged on improving nutrition and health in the initial years of life, the most critical period in early childhood development, starting at conception and finishing at age of two.
Every quarter, conditional cash transfers are being provided to poor pregnant and lactating women and those with children under two years old; Rs1,500 for a baby boy and mother, and Rs2,000 for a baby girl.
As stated by the programme’s policy, beneficiaries will be identified through the Ehsaas ecosystem and programme enrolments made through an android based Ehsaas Nashonuma application that enables the electronic registrations and tracks beneficiary women and children.
Nashonuma stipends are disbursed to mothers through biometrically enabled Ehsaas payment system. The payments are conditional upon the consumption of specialised nutritious food, immunisations and attendance in health awareness sessions.