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P&D in Collaboration with World Bank, UNICEF & Punjab Health Department Organizes Stunting Prevention Workshop at P&D Complex.

07 Mar, 2016

In collaboration with the Punjab Policy & Strategic Planning Unit Health Department, World Bank, UNICEF & HANDS, the Punjab Planning & Development Department jointly organized a “Stunting Prevention Workshop” on Monday here at P&D Complex, Lahore.

          Punjab Chairman Planning & Development Muhammad Jahanzaib Khan, in his address, said that Malnutrition is at a rise globally and it includes prevalence of underweight, wasting, stunting and overweight. Two billion people suffer from various forms of malnutrition and in 2011 under nutrition contributed to over 3.1 million child deaths worldwide.

Pakistani women and children suffer from some of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world with a national nutritional stunting prevalence among children under five of 44%. An estimated 78% of the world’s wasted children live in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan i.e. one out of every fourth child (Gross R, Webb P 2006). Stunting (under 5) can reduce 5-11 IQ points of a child.

At 44 percent, Pakistan’s under-5 stunting rates are much higher than the global rate. This is the third highest percentage of stunted children in the world and means that more than 9.6 million Pakistani children have experienced chronic nutrition or stunting. Stunting prevalence is slightly higher in male children (48%) than in female children (42%). Stunting disparities among urban and rural population of Pakistan is 37 percent and 46 percent respectively. On a population basis, high levels of stunting are associated with poor socioeconomic conditions and increased risk of frequent and early exposure to illness. Similarly, a decrease in the national stunting rate is usually indicative of improvements in overall socioeconomic conditions of a country. In Punjab, According to MICS 2014 stunting was 33.5% which marginally decreased from the 39.2% in 2011.

          Chairman P&D emphasized that all the departments should come forward and take ownership of this important burning issue and highlight their problems or insights or reservations regarding these policy strategy. He also urged the participants of the workshop to use this opportunity and continue using these linkages in future to address malnutrition in particular stunting. He said that it is the right time to priorities the objectives for strategies and action plans, short and long term benefits, accountability frame work and capacity building for effective coordination among groups specially for non health sectors. He also assured that P&D is committed to support such efforts as we continue to put children at the pinnacle of the development agenda.

          Addressing the workshop, Dr. Shabana Haider Member Health, P&D said that reducing stunting in Pakistan and in specific in Punjab Province is not only a moral obligation but it also brings a huge economic impact. Stunting if addressed at the early stage will counter all the adverse effects. 26% of children under five years of age have stunted growth. Stunting is the cause of an estimated 1 million child deaths annually. Having establish the prevailing situation relating to stunting around the world, the circumstances in Punjab or not that satisfactory either and demands special attention. Every 17 in 50 children under five years in Punjab are stunted. For these children, short and long term consequences of stunting included impaired health, growth, cognitive development, school readiness and learning in children, increased risk of obstetric complications and mortality in women and reduced height, productivity and earnings in adults. These effects testament to the reality of how serious the problem is and with the immediate attention it demands by all key stakeholders. For Pakistan the return is greatly high as one dollar invested in reducing stunting will bring a benefit of 101 dollars. It is evident from their findings that the returns to investments in nutrition have high benefit cost ratios and that this should be a top development priority. This workshop also is away to address the major actors who have to pitch in and contribute to this matter.

          Dr. Shabana also elaborated that the Scaling-Up Nutrition Movement (SUN) has galvanized world leaders and brought the partners, UN, Governments, civil society and private sector towards a coherent goal of putting nutrition at the top of the development agenda. It would be an opportune time for nutrition partners in Punjab to share experiences and learn from each other, she added.

          During the workshop, stakeholders highlighted malnutrition with a focus on stunting. it was also highlighted that the main causes of stunting are poor maternal health, Infant young child feeding, repeated infections, poor personal hygiene & sanitation and maternal Education and it was agreed that there was need to address these issues on war basis focusing on these issues an action plan identifying the roles of different sectors including public private sector and media to prevent stunting was prepared.

Dr. Shabana Haider Member Health, P&D Department, Ali Jaan Secretary Primary Health Care Punjab, Ali Bahadur Qazi Program Director, PSPU, Saleem Sindhu Chief Health, P&D Dept., Dr. Zahida Sarwar Additional Program Director=Tech, PSPU, Dr. Tayyab Masud Team Leader, World Bank, Dr. Tahir Manzoor (UNICEF), Dr. Tallat Pasha VC, UVAS, Dr. Sheikh Tanvir (HANDS), Angela Cespedes Head of Nutrition, WFP, Representatives from Public and Private Sectors including UHS, Contech International, FJMC, HUD & PHE Department, Fisheries Department, Food Department and Micronutrient Initiatives (MI) also participated in the workshop.