By Our Staff Reporter
KARACHI- Medical News – the pioneer of medical journalism in Pakistan and the leading medical newspaper since 1968 is organizing a Nutrition Conference titled “Nutrition & Health Lifestyle” on Saturday, 13th June, 2015 at Pearl Continental Hotel, Karachi. The event is sponsored by National Foods Limited.
The conference brings together experts in the field of nutrition on a single platform to share their expertise and knowledge to overcome the nutritional challenges facing Pakistan.
According to the last survey National Nutrition Survey (NNS) 2011 report, launched by the Planning Commission of Pakistan the stunting rate among children under the age of five years has increased from 41.6 per cent in 2001 to 43.7 per cent in 2011.
The findings of the NNS-2011, launched in collaboration with the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, revealed that 58.1 percent of households are food insecure and only three per cent of children receive a diet that meets the minimum standards of dietary diversity. Just three countries account for half of malnourished women and children globally and Pakistan is one of them, stated the report. “Major factors leading to chronic malnutrition in the country are poverty, high illiteracy rates among mothers and food insecurity.”
However, the findings of the NNS 2011 indicate a slight improvement since 2001 in terms of core maternal and childhood nutrition indicators which have profound effect on children’s immunity, growth and mental development.
Around 60% of Pakistan’s total population is facing food insecurity, revealed Pakistan’s National Nutrition Survey (NNS) 2011. The results of the survey, termed by health experts as “alarming”, indicate a significant decline in the nutritional status of the people of the country over the past decade.
The national survey, conducted by Ministry of Health’s (MoH) Nutrition Wing in collaboration with Agha Khan University (AKU), assessed the nutritional status of the population, especially women and children, while also covering morbidity and family care practices.
The survey took a sample of 30,000 households nationwide covering all the provinces and found that around 57% of the households were facing food insecurity. In these households, 50% of the women and children were found to be malnourished. “This confirms that the maternal and child malnutrition remains a major issue for Pakistan,” the report said.
The report stated that iron deficiency (anaemia) and vitamin A deficiency remains widespread in the country, however, iodine deficiency rate had reduced during the last decade. Other important nutritional indicators measured by the survey included maternal anaemia at 49%, night blindness 16%, child stunting level 43%, while wasting among children (child’s weight-for-height measured less than -2 standard deviations from the mean) was found to be 13%.
The survey found major differentials for chronic malnutrition between provinces, with Sindh, Balochistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas being the major contributors to childhood malnutrition in the country.
Health experts noted that the increasing rate of chronic and acute malnutrition in the country is primarily due to poverty, higher illiteracy rate among mothers and the government’s lack of commitment towards ensuring food security to each and every citizen. They also attributed it to the inherent problems in infant feeding practices and access to “right” foods.
The health experts said that the survey provides “unquestionable evidence of the problem of malnutrition in Pakistan”. They said that the levels of malnutrition are unacceptably high and will not only represent a challenge in reaching millennium development goals but will also constrain economic growth.
They suggested that a concerted multi-sector national and provincial nutrition strategy along with oversight mechanisms were needed to address mother and child health and nutrition problems.
According to the experts the statistics on the nutritional status are very alarming and there is a need to integrate strategies to overcome malnutrition,” Stunting among children is among the major problems the country is facing. “These children are our country’s future, and they are at stake, so it is time to act.
The forthcoming conference is an effort to create awareness about the importance of nutrition and health lifestyle and will be an annual feature.