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Punjab & Federal Government launches Mass Awareness Compaign Umeed Say Aagay at Lahore.

07 Aug, 2018

Punjab Planning & Development Department in collaboration with Nutrition Section/SUN Secretariat Ministry of Planning Development & Reform and Human Development Foundation jointly organized Provincial Launch (Punjab) of a Mass Awareness Compaign “Umeed Say Aagay” (Promoting Mother and Child Wellness in the First Thousand Days & Beyond) at P&D Complex, Lahore.

Addressing the launching ceremony, Provincial Secretary Planning & Development Iftikhar Ali Sahoo said that Punjab Government remains committed towards making nutrition a priority in the province, it is also crucial to recognize that Punjab is not the only province working towards malnutrition; each provincial government as well as the Federal Government has been and should be making considerable efforts in devising adequate measures to overcome the nutrition based hurdles.

Secretary P&D began by first explaining how critical this issue of malnutrition is for the nation’s development, resolving to revolutionize the landscape of nutrition. He also added that the need of the hour is to make the general public more aware of this endemic and how it affects the Mothers and Children of Punjab. He concluded by thanking the Federal Government and esteemed technical experts of Punjab for the sole purpose of working collectively in launching a focused campaign against malnutrition.

Saleem Masih Chief Health & Nutrition/ SUN Focal Person Punjab, inaugurating the session, said that nutrition has been a priority agenda item for the Punjab Government and the mutli-sectoral nutrition center had been established to ensure that all nutrition related interventions stay on track so that together we can end the prevailing endemic of malnutrition in the province.  Malnutrition is a multi-faceted issue, contributed by a number of factors – including health, education, water, sanitation, hygiene, population planning, and food intake. In Punjab Province the egregiously high rates of malnutrition highlight a prevalent multi sectoral issue whereby that the health status of the population is low, particularly among women and children, with half of the children aged between 12-23 months still not fully immunized. He concluded by thanking the Ministry of Planning, Development & Reform and the Human Development forum for their continued efforts in promoting the importance of the First 1000 days and look forward to the implementation of the mass awareness campaign “Umeed Say Agay”.

Aslam Shaheen Chief Nutrition/ SUN Focal Person thanked the HDF and SUN Movement collective efforts to improve nutrition situation and especially touching the most critical period of life. He said that this effort will go a long way to overcoming malnutrition in Pakistan and saving huge losses in the economy due to malnutrition.

While sharing the conception of the idea “Umeed say Aagay” and its objectives Saeed Ul Hassan, Executive Director HDF said the objective of the campaign is to create mass awareness in Pakistan about the importance of healthy nutrition practices for mother and children in the first 1000 days through youth led social movement and to promote early initiation and exclusive breast feeding up to six months and continued breast feeding up to two years in addition to age appropriate complementary feeding to achieve optimal growth, cognitive development and health for young children. More than 400,000 mothers and children die each year due to malnutrition. These deaths are preventable. He concluded on the note that “These 400,000 lives matter, and we have to save them”.

Dr. Rameeza Kalim, Head of Preventive Pediatrics, Fatima Jinnah Medical University & Ms. Cecilia Garzon, Head of Nutrition, World Food Programme talked about the importance of the First 1000 days and how focusing on these days can prevent a child from a stunted life which has life lasting consequences including poor cognitive ability, poor school performance, low productivity as adults and hence low future earnings.

Evolving the role of Media in Nutrition Syed Nabeel Tirmazi, International Journalist & Broadcaster stated that in current situation media plays a key role to overall human development and the wellbeing of the society purely from the perspective of knowledge building, information and communication. It is the media that informs us when we read or hear or watch or listen! Humanity has made great strides in improving the health of people the world over in the last century. World is changing continuously with new innovations and the needs, behaviors, practices which consequently affects the health of people. He emphasized that malnutrition is a global issue, over the period of last few decades’ nutritional deficiencies has generated place to non-communicable disease in addition to communicable and media has a great role to play.

Large number of government officials, development partners, civil society representative, academia, and media personnel from Punjab and Islamabad attended the ceremony.