Launch of lancet series on maternal and child nutrition in Pakistan
Posted on 2013-08-21 15:10:53
ISLAMABAD (NNI): Save the Children in collaboration with Agha Khan University launched the Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Nutrition in Pakistan. Lancet is a pioneer medical research journal which focuses on health issues.
The launch ceremony was well attended by representatives of the UN agencies, donors, academia, media and civil society.
Speaking at the launching ceremony the President and CEO of Save the Children US, Ms Carolyn Miles observed that while there has been a tremendous increase in a global political commitment to improve nutrition; yet this has translated into a modest impact. This presents a substantial unfinished agenda i.e. to address the cause of 45% (3.1 million) of all under 5 child deaths due to malnutrition. In Pakistan alone, 35% of all under five deaths can be attributed to the menace of malnutrition.
She further noted that the national and international momentum to address human nutrition and related food security and health needs has never been higher but we have to seize this opportunity and take concrete actions. Carolyn Miles reaffirmed Save the Children’s commitment to the cause of addressing malnutrition and assured that Save the Children will remain a frontline ally for responding to nutrition issues in Pakistan.
One of the leading global experts on nutrition and a lead author of the series Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta from Agha Khan University presented the key finding of the four papers launched on maternal and child nutrition. For instance Breastfeeding practices are far from optimum, despite improvements in some countries. Sub optimum breastfeeding results in an increased risk for mortality in the first 2 years of life and results in 800,000 deaths annually. Furthermore, nearly 15% of deaths of children younger than 5 years can be reduced (i.e. 1 million lives saved), if the ten core nutrition interventions identified in the Lancet series are scaled up.
He observed that if we want to address issues of malnutrition we would need long term sustained initiatives. This includes food security, child protection, gender dynamics which calls for nutrition sensitive interventions such as programs aimed at poverty alleviation, empowering women, targeted agriculture safety nets, early childhood development programs.
Dr Bhutta called upon for a collective societal approach, whereby all segments of society such as media, government, civil society and public work in collaboration to provide an enabling environment which puts the issue of malnutrition at the center stage. He further observed that Pakistan has made insufficient investments in nutrition sensitive interventions that are critical to produce policy change and impact.
Dan Rohrmann, Country Representative UNICEF briefed the audience regarding the Status of Nutrition in Pakistan. He noted that in Pakistan, about one quarter of the new borns are born at a low birth weight. Whereas, one half of the children suffer from chronic malnutrition. This seriously undermines the prosperous development of Pakistan as consequences of malnutrition cut the nations GDP by up to 4%. He further noted that if this issue is prioritized, malnutrition can be ended in a life time of a generation.
Aslam Shaheen, Chief Nutrition, Planning Commission of Pakistan lauded the efforts of Save the Children in launching the Lancet Series in Pakistan and observed, that the guidelines highlighted in the lancet paper will build into the Vision 2025 and government’s 5 year development plan.
Arshad Mahmood Director Advocacy and Child Rights Governance Save the Children, in his concluding remarks committed to providing support to the federal and provincial governments to have integrated provincial strategies in place and implemented. He also said that we will extend our full support and cooperation to the government for implementing the Scaling up nutrition initiatives commitments in Pakistan.
Together with the Development Partners for Nutrition and the civil society of Pakistan we are committed to work for improving the nutrition situation in Pakistan. However, for these initiatives to materialize political will and leadership is needed by the government both at the federal and provincial level. NNIcomments powered by Disqus
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