Islamabad : Pakistan’s nutrition challenges have changed completely during three decades as earlier policymakers were worried about food security and availability but now the quality of food and degenerative diseases being caused by the food have emerged as the major challenges being faced by a vast majority of Pakistani population, leading public health experts said on Friday.
“For the last three decades, Pakistan is facing the challenge of quality of food and degenerative diseases being caused due to consumption of food, especially diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and other Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). At the moment, Pakistan facing triple burden of malnutrition where 40 per cent adults and 20 per cent children are obese on one hand and other, 40 per cent children stunted and wasted in the country”, Dr. Shahzad Ali Khan, Vice Chancellor Health Services Academy (HSA) told a national workshop.
Formulation of Pakistan’s first ‘Multi-Sectoral National Nutrition Policy’ was discussed during the consultation, which was attended by experts and officials from public and private sector as well as academia. Experts called for initiating research on healthy diet as per Pakistani people’s health and wellness needs and called for creating awareness about healthy diet for the prevention of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and other ailments.
“Unfortunately, most of the health professionals in Pakistan don’t have the knowledge of healthy, nutritious food. There is an urgent to conduct research on healthy diet and its cost-effective provision to all the segments of society”, Prof. Khan said and also called for food labelling and other international parameters to ensure safe and healthy food to the consumers.
Hamid Jalil, Member Agriculture Food Security & Nutrition of the Planning Commission appreciated the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) for their work and support regarding the food security and nutrition in the country. He maintained that nutrition is a multi-sectoral subject hence all the relevant public and private sector partners need to be on boarded while formulating the MS-NNP.
He also mentioned that clear roles and responsibilities of all the partners should clearly chalked out to make everyone accountable and adding defined the Government of Pakistan’s vision on Policy Reviews and Robust Policy Formulation.
Chief Nutrition, MoPDSI Dr. Nazeer Ahmed shared the Pakistan’s commitment and various initiatives taken by the Govt for improving Nutrition Indicators in Pakistan. He further added that unfortunately we don’t have yet the MS-NNP that could guide the stakeholders for nutrition planning and programming in an inclusive manner by effective engagement of all the relevant partners.
Steve Godfrey, Director Policy and External Relations said the absolute number of malnourished populations is increasing so there is a need of strong collaboration and the coordination between the stakeholders for robust policy formulation and implementation.
Faiz Rasool, Senior Policy Adviser (GAIN) highlighted the vision and commitment of the GAIN for food system transformation globally and also in Pakistan. He showed organisation’s full support to Govt of Pakistan regarding the policies and food systems dashboard.
Country Director GAIN Farah Naz appreciated government’s initiatives to overcome the issue of malnutrition in the country. She maintained that there is a need endorsement of multi-sectoral policies by all the stakeholders.