Report finds grave issue of stunting in kids under five in Pakistan

Extensive research found that up to 40% of the children may be affected by stunting in the given age bracket

Special Assistant to Prime Minister in Health Dr. Faisal Sultan said that 40% of Pakistan’s kids under five are stunted and malnutrition in the country is among the priorities of the government. The health ministry is working on war footings to correct the problem.

“Malnutrition remains at the forefront of the government’s agenda. It is essential to cascade high-level commitments into policies that benefit the masses. The Prime Minister has directed my Ministry to lead in intersectoral coordination and advocacy as well as policy and planning for nutrition. For this purpose, a Nutrition Advisory Group has been constituted to provide technical oversight and guidance on nutrition policy and programming,” Faisal said.

A survey carried out on the subject included 115,500 households. It showed that along with stunting, wasting is also widespread in the country with districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Newly Merged Districts of KP having more prevalence than other provinces. “It is established that the foundation for stunting is laid before the child is 24 months of age. This means that preventive measures need to be taken before the child reaches this age and the mother’s health should receive special attention to avoid stunting,” Faisal added.

A long term issue

Stunting is a long term issue that needs to be fixed. One of the major factors is malnutrition. However, it is not the only issue since UN-backed research has shown gut-related infections in the Thar area, which is known for malnutrition and stunting in children. The issue can be addressed by a multi-pronged approach including ensuring that better nutrition is provided through wholesome food at home and at least one free meal is provided at schools. The rations for families with younger children may be subsidized as well, particularly in the troubled areas. Gut health should also be prioritized to ensure that stunting issues are minimized.

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