Missing nutrition.

HEALTHY human capital is a critical gauge of economic stability. The money spent on healthcare is a major determinant of economic growth which can help increase income levels. According to S.J. Mushkin's hypothesis, it is an investment that concerns the national economy and aids in high productivity and prosperity. Likewise, learning skills have a pivotal role in economic growth; these are enhanced when mental, physical and nutritional needs are fulfilled.

A healthy nation brings quality to the labour force, a lower mortality rate and robust generations. All this means less burden on the healthcare services. Studies show a strong link between health sector expenditure and GDP; the World Bank suggests that half the economic growth differential between developing and developed nations is based on healthcare and longevity, with the developing world worse off in both. Improved budgets for healthcare and learning can be a game changer for the young generation that through less exposure to disease and greater knowledge can contribute towards long-term economic progression.

Preventive measures are always better and less costly than treating a chronic condition. Investing, promoting and establishing healthy initiatives at the initial stage of school life will lead to better physical and mental health and also be cost-effective.

South Asian countries including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh face food insecurity and malnutrition. Food insecurity leads to hunger and contributes to malnutrition; insufficient or poor healthcare services add to this burden. While the National Nutritional Survey 2018 does not focus on ages five to 10 years in Pakistan, according to the WHO, 90 per cent of children aged five to 15 years reside in lower-middle-income countries. A recent review by Aga Khan University of 51 pooled studies from Pakistan of children aged from five to 15 years has found over 23pc to be stunted, 24pc wasted and 6.9pc obese.

Meals at school will ensure productive generations.

Now amid the food and fuel crisis, it has become all the more necessary to address the problem. The Covid-19 pandemic, conflict and the floods have impacted schools which demand transformative changes. Bringing health and education together will provide the best to school-going children and channel their potential positively.

As we observe the 50th anniversary of the National Nutrition Month in March, it is worth reminding ourselves that good health, nutrition and schooling...

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