ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister and Head of the Ehsaas Programme Dr Sania Nishtar said on Sunday that six Nashwonuma Centres would be opened in Kalat and Zhob districts of Balochistan in the first phase of the programme.
“The flagship initiative of the government aims to tackle stunting and improve the nutrition of the poorest children through a combination of cash stipends, nutritional food, medical examination and training,” she said.
The National Nutrition Survey 2018 has found that 46.6 per cent of children in Balochistan are currently impacted by stunting due to malnutrition, with significant consequences for their health and educational outcomes. To ensure that this form of malnutrition does not continue to compromise the human capital required to sustain the socioeconomic development, Ehsaas Programme has rolled out the Ehsaas Nashwonuma Programme.
Under the programme, 48 Ehsaas Nashwonuma Centres in 13 districts of the country are being opened at the district and tehsil level health facilities in the first phase. However, catering to the scattered population and wide geographical spread out of Balochistan, the Ehsaas Nashwonuma Centres are being opened at the basic health unit level to ensure easy access to the facility. The Ehsaas Nashwonuma centers in Balochistan are opening in collaboration with provincial government and the World Food Programme.
To provide all Ehsaas Nashwonuma facilities under one roof, four centres have been established in Kalat at DHQ Kalat, DHQ Surab, BHU Iskalkoo and BHU Lakorian. In Zhob district, two centres will be operational next month and the programme will be expanded to other districts in the next phase.
The Ehsaas Nashwonuma is a three-year programme that is fully funded by the government of Pakistan. The programme is pegged on improving nutrition and health in the first thousand days of life, the most critical period in early childhood development, starting at conception and finishing at the age of two. Every quarter, conditional cash transfers are being provided to the poorest pregnant and lactating women and those with children under two years old; Rs 1,500 for a boy child and mother, and Rs2,000 for a girl child.
As stated by the Ehsaas policy, beneficiaries will be identified through the Ehsaas ecosystem and programme enrolments will be made through an android-based Ehsaas Nashwonuma application. The android application not just enables the electronic registrations but also tracks beneficiary women and children. Nashwonuma stipends are disbursed to mothers through biometrically enabled Ehsaas payment system. Payments are conditional upon the consumption of specialised nutritious food, immunisations, and attendance in health awareness sessions.
Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2021