Health minister declares nutrition emergency in Balochistan


QUETTA: Balochistan Health Minister Mir Naseebullah Khan Marri speaks at the meeting.— INP
QUETTA: Balochistan Health Minister Mir Naseebullah Khan Marri speaks at the meeting.— INP

QUETTA: Provincial Health Minister Mir Naseebullah Marri has declared nutrition emergency in Balochistan and said the provincial government planned to expand its campaign for combating malnutrition, being conducted in seven districts, to other parts of the province.

He expressed these views while talking to the media after an annual progress review meeting of the Balochistan Nutrition Programme for Mothers and Children (BNPMC).

Read more: Dispatch from Balochistan: How mothers try to keep their newborns alive

He praised BNPMC manager Dr Amin Khan Mandokhail for his dedication to serving the poor.

He said the Balochistan government might work in collaboration with the federal government, UN agencies and NGOs to address malnutrition among the lower strata of society.

Highlighting the severity of the problem, Mr Marri said the challenge facing the province was enormous, adding that under the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Balochistan government would make all its possible efforts to resolve the issue of malnutrition and stunting.

However, he said, technical and financial support was needed from the Centre, as well as development partners.

Fight against malnutrition and disease affecting the heath of mothers and children was his government’s motto, he added.

The progress review meeting was attended by Director General of Health Services Dr Shakir Ali Baloch, BNPMC provincial coordinator Dr Amin Khan Mandokhail, representatives of Unicef and WHO and relevant stakeholders.

The participants regretted that 2011 Balochistan figures portrayed a dismal picture in which 40 per cent of children under five years are underweight, 52pc stunted, 61pc have Vitamin-A deficiency (maternal) and 74pc Vitamin-A deficiency (child), 49pc Anemia (maternal) and 57pc Anemia (child). They said that the recent wave of drought and water unavailability had increased the ratio of poverty disparity in the far-flung areas of the province where majority of population was food insecure.

It is critical to expand and improve the nutritional status of children under five years and that of pregnant and lactating women by improving the coverage of effective nutrition interventions with a priority focus on malnourished among the poor and other disadvantaged, including women, nutritionally vulnerable groups, ethnic and religious minorities, and socially marginalised occupational and settler groups in all districts of Balochistan.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2018