PM asks aides for roadmap to end stunting

Updated 06 Oct 2020

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Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting of the Pakistan National Nutritional Council on Monday.
Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting of the Pakistan National Nutritional Council on Monday.

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed his special assistants on health and social protection to jointly formulate a comprehensive roadmap on prevention of stunted growth among children in consultation with provinces.

While chairing the first high-level meeting of Pakistan National Nutrition Coordination Council on Monday, Prime Minister Khan said the roadmap would be presented to the Council of Common Interests (CCI).

The meeting was attended by federal ministers Shafqat Mahmood, Dr Fehmida Mirza, Syed Fakhr Imam, Asad Umar, Adviser to the PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Special Assistants to the Prime Minister Dr Sania Nishtar, Malik Amin Aslam, Dr Faisal Mirza, secretaries of relevant ministries and senior officials. Also, the provincial chief secretaries attended the meeting through video link.

In his maiden address to the nation after assuming office in 2018, Prime Minister Imran Khan had highlighted that his government’s top priority would be addressing the issue of stunting in view of its impact on the mental and physical development of children due to malnutrition and substandard food.

Promises all-out efforts to meet the needs of the less privileged

He had explained that stunting not only affected children’s mental and physical abilities, but also deprived society of benefiting from their constructive abilities. For this reason, he had said resolving the issue of stunting would be the top most priority of his government and vowed that the federation would play its full role in this regard.

Comprising eight federal ministers, the National Nutrition Coordination aims at improving and streamlining coordination between federal and provincial governments to implement the Prime Minister’s vision and government priorities to prevent stunting.

PM’s Special Assistant on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar briefed the meeting on multiple factors including malnutrition behind stunting in children and its effects.

The meeting was informed that the plans formulated in the past 10 years to meet the nutritional needs of women and newborns had not been implemented effectively, with the result that around 40 per cent of children were suffering from stunting. In Sindh, the PM was told, the statistics had touched 50pc mark.

The participants discussed that it was the responsibility of the provincial governments to play a pivotal role in overcoming stunting. In this regard, the meeting was briefed, the Ehsaas Nashunuma Portal was going to provide detailed data on stunting from across the country.

The meeting was informed that in the first phase, 36 Ehsaas Development Centres had been set up in nine districts, where food is provided to also meet the nutritional needs of mothers and newborns. Besides, conditional cash is provided to mothers.

Shelter homes upgraded

While expressing satisfaction over the establishment of model shelter homes in the federal capital and the provision of quality facilities therein, PM Khan said the government would make all-out efforts to meet the needs of the less privileged and destitute.

While presiding over a meeting here regarding the upgrade of five shelter-homes in the federal capital and setting up of a network of shelter homes across the country equipped with the best facilities, the prime minister directed the relevant officials that without any compromise on the quality of facilities, labourers and destitute living in the shelter homes should be served in a way that their self-respect should be ensured while providing them better food and accommodation facilities.

The prime minister said the government, besides providing all possible resources for the establishment of shelter homes and the expansion of their network, would also encourage philanthropists. In order to settle the issue of the establishment of shelter homes on a permanent basis, the prime minister also accorded approval in principle for amendment to the Baitul Maal law.

Dr Nishtar briefed the prime minister in detail about the upgrade of five shelter homes established in the federal capital and the facilities being provided to deserving people there. She told the prime minister that the data of people staying in shelter homes was updated on a daily basis so that it was not only utilised for improving the service but also shared with those working towards the noble cause.

Pakistan Baitul Maal Managing Director Aon Abbas presented a roadmap to the prime minister regarding the expansion of shelter homes network across the country.

Navy chief calls on PM

Meanwhile, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, whose retirement is due on October 6, paid a farewell visit to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday.

The PM appreciated the services of Admiral Abbasi for Pakistan Navy and wished him well, the PM Office said.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2020