PESHAWAR: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has pinned high hopes on a new initiative of the Khyber Medical University (KMU) to carry out research on nutritional status of the population as the country desperately requires measures to put brakes on diseases caused by lack of balanced diet.

“We should get benefits of this research to derive desirable results that could serve as basis for bringing about improvement in the nutritional scenario,” HEC chairman Prof Mukhtar Ahmed told a seminar at KMU here on Tuesday.

The research, to be conducted on specialised lines, will ultimately lead to the identification of gaps responsible for the poor indicators regarding nutrition, he said. As a result, the varsity should offer suggestive measures and put in place an effective programme to scale up nutritional status of the people, which will also lead to marked improvement in people’s health.

Prof Ahmed said that healthy people could effectively contribute to the national development. He said that this conference was a platform for scholars from UK and Pakistan to explore research opportunities in nutrition. He said that KMU had also won the British Council’s research grant for conceiving the project.

Seminar explores opportunities of research

Prof Ahmed said that HEC supported moves that seek to look for local solutions of local health-related issues and create research opportunities. The event titled “nutrition policy to practice in Pakistan: exploring the challenges and research opportunities” was organised by KMU.

Secretary health Mushtaq Jadoon said that the government supported such health research endeavours to take evidence-based decisions and improve patient care.

He praised the organisers for holding international conference on such an important topic. He offered all-out support for evaluating the report and implementing the recommendations besides encouraging research activities of the university.

KMU vice-chancellor Prof Mohammad Hafizullah said that a recently-held 6th annual research symposium, establishment of research institutes of non-communicable diseases and hepatology with arrangements for liver transplant were part of efforts aimed at scaling up healthcare facilities.

UK-based charity organisation Abaseen Foundation’s Prof Nicola M Lowe explained the rationale and background of the workshop and said that she knew the nutritional problems because she worked with vulnerable communities for the past 10 years where she saw the poor nutritional status of children from a close range.

KMU’s director research Prof Mukhtiar Zaman said that 17 national and international medical researchers, and scholars from the universities of Central Lancashire, Glasgow, Chester, Aberdeen, Nottingham and Warwick were representing UK and similar number were chosen from universities of Pakistan like Peshawar, Dow Health, Khyber Medical, Noor Foundation, Micro Nutrient Initiative, etc.

The programme includes lectures, original research presentation and group discussion over the next three days. The participants were excited to be part of the activity to improve nutritional status of people and promote research in the resource-constrained environment.

Prof Nilofer Fatimi Safdar from Dow University threw light on the poor nutritional status of children and adult population that correlated with poor intellectual development and hence social status. Dr Tauseef Janjua talked about initiatives taken by the Micronutrient Initiative of Pakistan.

Published in Dawn March 11th , 2015

On a mobile phone? Get the Dawn Mobile App: Apple Store | Google Play