KARACHI: As the Sindh government heads towards a multi-sectoral strategy to eliminate all forms of malnutrition and stunting in the province, it is yet to set up a board and appoint inspectors required under the breastfeeding and nutrition law, it emerged on Saturday.

The government has not formed rules for the Sindh Protection and Promotion of Breast-Feeding and Young Child Nutrition Act despite the fact that the law was passed by the Sindh Assembly around a year ago.

Sources said that matter had recently been raised by the chairman of the Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC) in a letter to the health secretary.

The letter refers to several clauses of the Sindh Protection and Promotion of Breast-feeding and Young Child Nutrition Act 2023, including Section 3, which mandates establishment of an “Infant and Young Child Nutrition Board” with the purpose to advise and propose guidelines to the government on policies for the promotion and protection of breastfeeding and matters relating to designated products, especially infant and young child nutrition, among other things.

SHRC asks health dept to appoint inspectors, devise rules

“Further, under Section 6, the ‘Appointment of Inspectors’ has been mandated. As per Section 7, the powers of the inspectors include [but are not limited to] inspect any premises where any designated product is imported, manufactured, sold, stocked, exhibited for sale, supply, advertised or otherwise promoted and all relevant records,” the letter written by SHRC chairman Iqbal Ahmed Detho states.

He also refers to Section 22 and Section 30 (1) of the Act, requiring establishment of a budget titled “The Infant and Young Children Nutrition Board Fund” and making rules for implementation of the law.

“The SHRC under Section 4(iii) and 4(v) refers to your good office and recommends the establishment/notification of ‘Infant and Young Child Nutrition Board’, ‘Appointment of Inspectors’, ‘the Infant and Young Children Nutrition Board Fund’ along with the Rules of Implementation of the Sindh Protection and Promotion of Breast-Feeding and Young Child Nutrition Act, 2023,” the letter says.

Breastfeeding’s role in malnutrition

The letter also refers to the Sindh Infant & Young Child Feeding (IYCF) 2018-19, according to which, less than one in four newborns (23 per cent) received breast milk within one hour of birth and only 47pc of children under six months of age were exclusively breastfed.

Further, the figures show, infant and young children feeding practices vary greatly between divisions in Sindh.

Only six per cent of children aged six month to around two years in Shaheed Benazirabad division received minimum diet diversity compared to 23pcin Larkana division. Similar differences are noted for early initiation of breastfeeding.

“The letter is written in the light of studies indicating that breastfeeding has an important role in the prevention of different forms of childhood malnutrition, including wasting and stunting,” Mr Detho said.

The SHRC was an oversight body with powers to review, assess laws and recommend measures to improve implementation of the law, he added.

It might be recalled that the provincial government had initiated work on a multi-sectoral convergence strategy on stunting and malnutrition in the province in collaboration with foreign partners.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Olympics contingent
21 Jul, 2024

Olympics contingent

FROM 10 in Tokyo the last time, it is now down to seven in Paris, and split across just three disciplines. When...
Grave concerns
21 Jul, 2024

Grave concerns

PUNJAB Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz’s open assault on the Supreme Court for ruling in favour of the PTI in the...
Civil unrest
Updated 21 Jul, 2024

Civil unrest

The government must start putting out fires instead of fanning more flames.
Royal tantrum
Updated 20 Jul, 2024

Royal tantrum

The PML-N's confrontational stance and overt refusal to respect courts orders on arguably flimsy pretexts is a dangerous sign.
Bangladesh chaos
Updated 20 Jul, 2024

Bangladesh chaos

The unfortunate events playing out in Bangladesh should serve as a warning sign for other South Asian states.
Fitch’s estimate
20 Jul, 2024

Fitch’s estimate

FITCH seems to be more optimistic about Pakistan accelerating its economic growth rate to 3.2pc during this fiscal...