Govt urged to chalk out plan to address 'triple burden of malnutrition'.

KARACHI -- A national nutrition action plan nested firmly within the provinces and owned by all sectors along with a national nutrition dashboard is required to address Pakistan's malnutrition crisis.

'Pakistan faces a triple burden of malnutrition - under-nutrition, overweight/obesity and micronutrient deficiencies. Moreover, malnutrition in all its forms cuts across socio-economic strata. We have all the data we need for policy making. Concerted action and political will are required to address inequities,' said Prof Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, founding director of the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health at Aga Khan University (AKU).

Delivering the plenary talk during the 24th National Health Sciences Research Symposium organised by the Aga Khan University, he said child malnutrition rates in Pakistan had not changed much over 50 years while stunting was disproportionately clustered towards the south of the country. There was a close correlation between maternal and early childhood under-nutrition.

The event combined in-person and online presentations focusing on the theme of 'Nutrition through the life course: improving health for generations to come'.

Periodic disasters, he pointed out, also underscored the vast disparity in nutrition progress and investments across the country.

'We have a unique opportunity at this point in time to make a difference across generations, and the future of the nation, by investing in evidence-based strategies and addressing the social determinants of under-nutrition in the most affected districts of the country,' he added.

Abdul Qadir Patel, federal minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, spoke of the need for creating a 'package' of health-related interventions rather than compartmentalising them.

'In the post-flood situation, the issue of malnutrition has become greater as floods have principally hit food-producing regions,' the minister said, while assuring the assembled health experts that he would work on the research and input they...

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