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Making grassroots nutrition movement financially sustainable

Making grassroots nutrition movement financially sustainable

Islamabad : Representatives of more than 30 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) benefitted from a day-long capacity-building training on fortification awareness and proposal writing, a crucial skill vis-à-vis mobilisation of funds from international donors as part of the larger goal of being able to play a sustainable role in the fight against malnutrition.

Organised by the ‘TheNetwork’ for Consumer Protection, the training had Parliamentary Secretary for National Health Services Dr. Nausheen Hamid as the guest of honour. Addressing the participants, she hoped that the training would contribute to ending malnutrition at the grassroots level and expressed the government’s commitment to supporting the civil society in its efforts to address issues pertaining to food fortification and nutrition, which has already been declared an emergency in Balochistan.

Prof. Dr. Mehr Taj Roghani, Member of the Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services, also spoke on the occasion. “Pakistan is facing various challenges in its efforts to end malnutrition; proposal writing training will help CSOs to attract funding. The government and civil society need to work hand-in-hand to be able to make a difference in the lives of the poor masses,” she stated. More than half of Pakistani women and two-thirds of children are suffering from micronutrient deficiency, widespread Vitamin A, Vitamin D, zinc, folic acid, and iron deficiency anaemia.

Nadeem Iqbal, the CEO of ‘TheNetwork’ said, “These organisations have a vibrant role in influencing stakeholders to improve compliance to standards of fortification and enforcement of the existing laws. These CSO’s also have very deep roots in the community and can influence the communities for increased demand for fortified food.

Pakistan is losing 2-3% of the GDP annually because of high burden of malnutrition. The lack of iron, vitamins A and D and other minerals limits the ability to fight disease, making it a major contributor to high maternal newborn and child death rates. The newborn death rate is 42 per 1,000 while childhood death rate is 74 per 1,000. Malnourishment also affects cognitive and physical development, ultimately leading to reduced learning abilities and lower productivity in adulthood. Pakistan’s rates of malnutrition are stagnating compared to reductions seen in neighbouring countries.

Food fortification, the addition of vitamins and minerals to common foods, is an effective, affordable and safe measure to lower the burden of micronutrient deficiency, reduce economic loss due to malnutrition, and make Pakistan healthier. In the end, certificates were distributed among participants.

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