State of malnutrition

A multi-pronged approach is needed that tackles malnutrition.

Editorial June 24, 2013
Unless immediate steps are taken to tackle this issue, Pakistan will miss one of the major MDGs by a long shot to its own detriment. PHOTO: Reuters

The UN food aid chief’s statement that hunger in Pakistan is at emergency levels is a grim reminder of our worrying food security and malnutrition status. According to a report, the UN World Food Programme has declared that while the situation in Pakistan is dire, funding has now dwindled due to donor interest in other regions, such as Syria. Conflict and three consecutive years of flooding have caused untold damage to food security. In Swat, farmers complain that orchards and crops were destroyed both because of militancy and floods. The tribal areas face a similar situation.

The statistics indeed paint a sorry picture: nearly half of Pakistan’s women and children suffer from malnutrition, while around 1.5 million children face acute malnutrition. Forty per cent of children are underweight and a third of child deaths are associated with malnutrition. Micronutrient deficiencies are common, with 51 per cent of women and 62 per cent of children under five estimated to be anaemic. Malnutrition is believed to cost Pakistan two to three per cent of its GDP.

While international donors may be losing interest, it is regrettable that the political will to tackle this issue also seems to be missing. Since malnutrition in Pakistan is linked to poverty and the consumption of inadequate quantities of food with low nutrition levels, the government needs to lay emphasis on poverty reduction programmes. A multi-pronged approach is needed that tackles malnutrition through health, education, nutrition and agricultural initiatives. Beyond that, the government needs to look into the distribution and storage systems that may be leading to shortages. The role of middlemen in this regard can be destructive to production. Not only should the government assess the viability of a subsidy programme for farmers, it should also educate them and provide them adequate infrastructure to market their produce. Unless immediate steps are taken to tackle this issue, Pakistan will miss one of the major MDGs by a long shot to its own detriment.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2013.

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Laila Kurshid | 7 years ago | Reply | Recommend

For the UN to declare that HUNGER IN PAKISTAN is at the dire emergency level is a STAMP of shame for us Pakistanis as a Nation. We already know without an UN body to declare look around the outskirts of our country. The deplorable conditions the poor in our country live, the filth the sewage and lack of basic needs. In the words of John Kennedy asks not what our country can do for us ask what we can do for our country. There is a terrifying lack of citizen involvement our young men and women organizing a huge wave of volunteerism to end these issues of poverty. The Pakistani culture is let's take care of ourselves and let others fend for themselves. We have to break this mentality and destroy cycle of poverty than blame blame the military or our political leaders. Alas we do not have the moral courage we would rather delay and blame & push the responsibility to others. Considering the billions of money pouring in from remittance we have the money do we have the soul?

RAW is WAR | 7 years ago | Reply | Recommend

Really sad. These women seem to be hiding from the world,

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