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PUNJAB TO STRENGTHEN AND EXPAND SCOPE OF NUTRITION AND POPULATION INTERVENTIONS

19 Apr, 2019

Government of Punjab attaches high priority to Nutrition and Population sectors and has undertaken a number of immediate interventions and formulated a long-term action plan. Aligned with the Prime Minister's agenda on nutrition and stunting, the Multi-sectoral Nutrition Center at the Planning and Development Board is being strengthened by including other sectors, such as population, and renamed as Multi- sectoral Nutrition and Population Center.

Punjab fares better compared to national statistics i.e. 31.5% of the children under-5 remain stunted, 7.5% remain wasted and 21.2% remain underweight (MICS 2018). Regardless, the burden of malnutrition remains distressing, with more than one-thirds of the present generation being compromised, in terms of physical and cognitive growth. The implications of such high rates of malnutrition are multi-fold and long lasting, including higher dropout rates in schools, lower productivity and lower future earnings. Cognizant of these realities, the GoPb is committed to deliver a comprehensive and thorough plan for the province.

The Government of Punjab is completely committed to developing sustainable solutions and implementing meaningful reforms to achieve a healthy and nutritious province. Demographic trends play a crucial role in impacting nutrition and the large population in Punjab inherently translates into a greater challenge for the provincial government in providing adequate nutrition for every individual citizen. Hence, collaborative efforts through a strengthened Multi-sectoral strategy and center supported by an integrated approach will ensure that the crucial work done in the areas of nutrition and population can pay dividends for the province in the future.

The Planning and Development Board has set key targets in nutrition and population which aims to achieve by 2025 through the Nutrition and Population Center. The Center will carry out policy making, strategic planning and other interventions, stunting is to be reduced from the current 31.5% to 17.5% in 2025, wasting from the current 7.5% to 5% along with other crucial indicators of population growth rate and unmet needs of Family Planning etc.

Keeping in view the crucial challenges in nutrition and other areas, the Multi-sectoral Nutrition and Population Center at the Planning and Development Board with support from concerned departments and key development partners including but not limited to UNICEF, UNFPA, DFID, TRP Plus, SH&ME, Population Welfare Department, and Primary and Secondary Health, will ensure timely and effective steps.  All District Coordinators and Sector Specialists hired under the Center will be on contractual basis and great effort will be made to attract the best talent from the market. All present contracts, performance evaluations and request for extensions are being considered and reviewed by a committee at the Planning and Development Board.

Punjab, Pakistan’s most populace province hosts a population of 110 Million people, with a population growth rate of 2.13%. The province caters to a population density of 536 people per square kilometer.  Coupled with a 3.4% Total Fertility Rate, 38.3% CPR and an un-met need for family planning of 15.8%, the province of Punjab faces critical challenges in terms of catering to its present population growth and moving towards a sustainable population. In view of the challenging situation the Government of Punjab over the past years has made considerable investment in the Population Sector, as a result of which Punjab now has 129 Family Health Clinics, 2100 Family Welfare Centers, 117 Mobile Service Units, 06 Men Advisory Centers, and presently has a work force of over two thousand social mobilizers and Family Planning Workers. However, the current efforts towards catering to the population boom has rendered insufficient.

The Planning and Development Board has included population sector as a new addition into the scope of Multi-sectoral Nutrition Center thereby strengthening and broadening the scope of center which will focus on both malnutrition and population planning. The Nutrition and Population Center will have the following TORs:

Provide leadership, over sight, technical assistance, monitoring and secretariat support to the P&DD in identify and integrating of nutrition and population dynamics into sectoral plans and strategies; integrate into their regular work plans along with implementation strategy.

Develop evidence-based policies, strategic planning, reforms and transformation by using available data that covers major effect of nutrition endemic and population growth rate of Punjab on development sector indicators including health, education sanitation, employment, agriculture, and social welfare activities etc.

Provide a single platform to formulate policies, strategies along with sharing of best practices and innovative techniques to reduce malnutrition and population burden

Coordinate all activities relating to the implementation of the above-mentioned Plans and strategies;

Mobilize resources both financial and human including media, corporate sector, academia, religious scholars and all other segments of society for the matters relating to garnering support for the successful implementation of the proposed strategies

Capacity building of relevant stakeholders for smooth implementation of the planned interventions.