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Sindh Parliamentarians to Work with Mishal Pakistan for Smart Policy Making on Nutrition Awareness.

 KARACHI: Mishal Pakistan, the Country Partner Institute of the Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking Network of the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Health held a special session to capacitate the Sindh Parliamentarians for smart policy making on eliminating hidden hunger and nutrition awareness. The session was held at the Sindh Assembly and attended by the committee members, representatives from the World Food Program, UNICEF, members of academician and senior journalists.

Dr. Sohrab Khan Sarki, Chairman Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Health Sindh, during his remarks said “Adequate food and nutrition is every citizen’s right. Given Sindh’s Health statistics, mainly children and women suffer from malnutrition which in severe cases has resulted in deaths as well. He further added “Sindh’s provincial government has already taken an initiative for the Protection and Promotion of Breastfeeding and Child Nutrition Act; however, Mishal Pakistan along with Australian High Commission has started a much-needed dialogue on nutrition and eliminating hidden hunger at provincial and district levels”.

Mr. Sikandar Ali Mandhro, Minister for Health, Government of Sindh said, “we welcome the intervention by Mishal to work with Government of Sindh, the key focus of this initiative should be to capacitate policy makers and the parliamentarians, so a more harmonized debate and policy making can be ensured for service delivery to the citizens. The initiative would also facilitate the knowledge flow among key stakeholders to “Eliminate Hidden Hunger”.

Amir Jahangir, Chief Executive Officer of Mishal Pakistan, while briefing the members of Sindh parliament said, “We have launched the Smart Policy Making initiative to ensure policy making through data and real time feedback through media. This would not only help the parliamentarians to improve service delivery to the citizens but would also contribute in improving Pakistan’s competitiveness on global footing, while creating accountability through media.

Rabia Dadabhoy, Director Dadabhoy Institute of Higher Education in her message said that, “through this initiative, we are jointly generating new insights on Sindh to ensure efforts in the fight against hidden hunger and nutrition challenges”.

Dr. Zafar Iqbal, Chairman Department of Mass Communication, International Islamic University, Islamabad while presenting the case for nutrition and health communication said, “Pakistan has an alarmingly high level of malnutrition; 24 percent of the population in Pakistan is undernourished. The most recent estimates by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) state that 37.5 million people in Pakistan are not receiving proper nourishment. The issue is complex and widespread, with deficiencies ranging from protein to iodine, along with other health problems due to insufficient intake of these essential nutrients, we must generate public debate around this on war footings through media interventions and legislative measures”.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian High Commission (Australian Aid) has reached out to Mishal to partner and launch a nationwide program to create knowledge resources on Nutrition challenges in Pakistan. The program will address the “Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), Goal No. 2 ‘Zero Hunger’”.

The initiative by Mishal has launched the program to improve the narrative building on Nutrition by engaging various stakeholders including press clubs, journalism associations, policy making institutes and academia across Pakistan.

This collaboration has come into two different phases i.e. Initially in the shape of support for AGAHI Awards, where the Australian Aid is supporting the Journalism Awards in the categories of Eliminating Hidden Hunger, Agriculture and the Food, Water and Energy Security Nexus.”

The second phase of the collaboration between the Australian Aid and Mishal is to build the capacity of journalists and field reporters to create a better understanding on nutrition related challenges, while at the same time it will capacitate the parliamentarians and policy makers to debate suggest and approve Nutrition focused policies for a productive workforce of the future. The initiative is working across Pakistan with focal areas in provincial and federal capitals in Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, AJK and the Federal Capital, Islamabad.

Through this initiative “Eliminating Hidden Hunger”, Mishal will build the capacity of more than 120 journalists and editors, while also engaging more than 60 parliamentarians and members of the federal and provincial standing committees on Food Security, Health and Agriculture etc. The initiative is supported by various development agencies and private sector organizations. The initiative is creating a master class of key opinion leaders in the country on nutrition and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) goal 2.

Mishal is also working with the National University of Modern Languages on research projects to create new vocabulary on Nutrition related issues in the leading languages being spoken in the country. Mishal through its flagship media development program, “AGAHI Awards”, has introduced multiple new categories on Nutrition, to encourage more public debate to be brought by media on this issue.

An estimated 2 billion people — over 30 percent of the world’s population suffer from deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals. “Hidden hunger” is how health experts often refer to micronutrient deficiencies because most people affected do not show the visible physical symptoms and hence may not be aware of their condition. Hidden Hunger’s effects can be devastating, leading to mental impairment, poor health, low productivity, and even death. Its adverse effects on child health and survival are particularly acute, especially within the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, from conception to the age of two, resulting in serious physical and cognitive consequences.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals aim to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030, making sure all people – especially children and the more vulnerable – have access to sufficient and nutritious food all year round. Zero Hunger is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Published in The Balochistan point on May 21, 2017

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