Chronic malnutrition causes erosion of human intellectual capacity, physical growth reduction & economic drainage: Experts

Chronic malnutrition causes erosion of human intellectual capacity, physical growth reduction & economic drainage: Experts

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Gilgit, April 6 (PR): A workshop was organized on Thursday by Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Unit & Planning / Development Department of GB at a local hotel for provincial line departments including Health, Population welfare department, Agriculture, Food, Livestock, Fisheries, Education, social protection, women, civil society alliance and academia of Karakoram International University about economic consequences of malnutrition in Pakistan as per statistical indicators of National Nutrition Survey 2011. Addressing the workshop participants about a session on economic consequences of malnutrition Dr Nadir Shah, Program Consultant of SUN, highlighted facts & figures about 3 % annual GDP losses to national economy which were more serious than losses of 2% GDP through energy crisis.   He added that it is the need of the hour to accelerate the process of intervention by flour fortification which is currently cost effective as one dollar invested earns 8 dollars in return, while successful holistic interventions in global practices have shown that one dollar invested earns 16 dollars in return. Hence investment in nutrition improvement is the most cost effective investment for sustaining the national economy & human capital. Earlier in a message   Secretary Planning  & development  Mr Babar Aman Babar & UNICEF chief consultant for GB  Dr Samia Hashim  assured all sectoral support in execution of integrated nutrition strategy of GB. Mr Mohammad Baqir as a deputy chief social sector emphasized the need for inter-sectoral collaboration for achieving over targets & objectives of SUN for GB.    

GB has alarmingly high rates of stunting, low height in relation to age, in all of South Asia. Due to its mountainous geography, the population also suffers from iodine and vitamin D deficiency on a consistent basis despite efforts and significant progress regarding house hold iodine consumption.

Malnutrition in childhood results in long term health problems in adulthood such as the development of non-communicable diseases, low immunity, low IQ and low earning. Therefore the focus of SUN movement, sponsored by UNICEF, is on the first thousand days in the life of a baby and its mother, that is, from the moment of conception to the second birthday of the child. Awareness-raising in communities regarding correct cooking methods and the nutritional value of diverse foods is part of the strategy.  

Program Consultant Dr Nadir Shah emphasized that the incentive for long term investment in nutrition is required for a healthier economy and higher earning capacity of individuals. He also stressed that nutrition was not the sole concern of health department alone, but rather it was an issue of holistic development of a nation in which all sectors such as agriculture, food, women’s departments, civil society, media and others must give their input. This is the inter-sectorial approach of SUN.

Focal Person Nutrition, GB Mr. Mohammad Abbas highlighted the achievements of the nutrition cell over the last decade including trainings on infant-feeding, promotion of iodized salt and advocacy.

The participants gave their feedback and recommendations in addition to updating on the work being done in their respective departments. There was consensus among the participants on the need to revert to organic farming and minimizing the use of harmful pesticides which contaminated food. The need for health life style in addition to a balanced diet was also stressed.

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