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PESHAWAR: Health experts at a seminar here on Thursday stressed the need for scaling up awareness regarding the causes and harmful effects of malnourishment to safeguard women and children from host of preventable ailments.

“One-third of children in the country are underweight and suffer from iron deficiency while about 58 per cent families don’t have access to proper food due to which they face plethora of diseases that can be prevented,” Dr Kashif Nazeer of planning and development department told the seminar.

The one-day event was organised by Civil Society Alliance Pakistan and Nutrition International in collaboration with United Rural Development Organisation (URDO) to sensitise media people on nutrition-related problems and spread awareness about the harmful impacts of malnourishment on people, especially women and children.

Say one-third of children in country suffer from iron deficiency

Dr Kashif asked the journalists to play their role for making nutrition as agenda of the government at the policy and programme levels in the province to safeguard people from adverse effects of malnutrition.

He said that about 58 per cent of the households in country were food insecure out of which 9.8 per cent were food insecure with hunger, according to National Nutrition Survey, 2011.

Aliya Habib, the coordinator of Civil Society Alliance Pakistan, said that malnutrition not only affected individuals but had dire economic and developmental impacts on the community and nation.

She said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had high rate of stunting among children under five. “It is 47.8 per cent as compared to 43.7 per cent of the national average,” she said. She added that role of media was vital for addressing the malnutrition crises in the country through sustained focus on nutrition reporting.

Zaheer Khattak, the executive director of United Rural Development Organisation urged journalists to highlight the malnutrition issue.

A nutrition core group of media persons was formed at the end of the session to prioritise nutrition from policy to grassroots level. The members of the forum pledged to use their technical expertise and influence for making nutrition a priority for political commitment, government action and public behaviour change.

Published in Dawn, August 10th, 2018