LAHORE: Nearly four in every 10 children under five years of age are stunted and that the number of underweight adolescent boys is double than girls in Punjab, reveals a report of the National Nutrition Survey 2018-19 launched here on Friday.
The survey reports also shows that nearly two out of every 10 children under five years of age also suffer from wasting, a form of malnutrition that puts the affected children at high risk of dying. At least 23.5 per cent of children under five were found to be underweight while 9.9 per cent were overweight in the province.
It reveals that one in eight adolescent girls and nearly two in eight adolescent boys are underweight, while approximately 41 per cent of the adolescent girls are anaemic.
The findings of the survey were shared by Prof Dr Zulfiqar A. Bhutta of the Aga Khan University, while provincial ministers Dr Yasmin Rashid and Murad Raas, P&D Board Chairman Habibur Rahman Gilani, Primary and Secondary Healthcare Zahid Akhtar Zaman Secretary, Chief of Nutrition Unicef Pakistan Dr Eric Alain Ategbo and others were also present.
The sharing of findings is aimed at initiating dialogue with regards to a provincial policy development around malnutrition and to reiterate Punjab’s government commitment towards making nutrition a priority, said Mr Gilani.
The supposedly largest-ever nutrition survey in the history of the country inclusive of provincial and district level data, it provides robust evidence for programming to scale up nutrition sensitive and nutrition specific interventions with a high level of development and progress.
The survey assesses nutrition status of 40,452 households across Punjab. Children under five, adolescent girls and women of child bearing age are the primary focus while collecting the data on nutrition indicators along with data on access to water and its quality, hygiene and sanitation, food security and disability among children.
It says that children living in rural areas suffer more from under nutrition (stunting and wasting) than their peers in urban areas.
The prevalence of stunting improved from 1965 (48pc) to 1994 (36.3pc) but deteriorated from 2001 (41.6pc) to 2011 (43.7pc). In 2018 it remains at global critical level, 40.2pc.
Since 1997, the prevalence of wasting or low weight for height among young children in on the rise, from 8.6pc in 1997 to 25.1pc in 2011 and 17.7pc in 2018, the highest ever rate in the country.
The survey was conducted by the Aga Khan University in collaboration with the Ministry of Health Services Regulation and Coordination with the support of Unicef Pakistan and Department for International Development.
Dr Yasmin said that preventing and reducing malnutrition saves lives, reduces illness, enables children to learn and helps individuals and countries escape from poverty and maximize their potential.
She said eliminating malnutrition remains a top priority agenda of the current government.
Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2019