The Media’s Contribution to Public Understanding of Malnutrition in Pakistan is Highlighted by Nutrition International

In an event hosted by Nutrition International, it was discussed that the media has a significant impact on raising public awareness of nutrition and healthy diets, advocating for nutrition to remain a top priority on the political agenda, and ensuring that the proper policies, governance structures, and actions are implemented to encourage accountability among stakeholders.

The purpose of this event was to educate the media about the problems with malnutrition in Pakistan and to highlight their crucial role in combating the problem.

“Adequate nutrition is a vital cornerstone of anyone’s health, but it’s especially important for women,” said Shehzad Afzal, acting Country Director of Pakistan for Nutrition International.

He added that raising the health and nutritional standards of women not only advances gender equality and female emancipation but is also essential to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

When they are properly nourished, women and girls can have better opportunity to earn money, learn, grow, and lead. This year, Nutrition International celebrates 30 years of helping those in need with better health and nutrition. In order to improve the nutritional status of 1 billion people by 2030, particularly women, teenage girls, and children, Nutrition International has identified maternal nutrition as one of its top priority areas.

The triple burden of malnutrition affects Pakistani women of reproductive age (WRA) (15-49 years), with over 42% of them having anaemia. Likewise, 54% of adolescent girls (10–19 years old) are anaemic. Maternal malnutrition, early marital problems, closely spaced births, and high rates of malnutrition among WRA and adolescent girls combine to create a vicious cycle of high morbidity and mortality with poor mother and child health outcomes.

Through a variety of initiatives and interventions, Nutrition International has been working closely with the federal and provincial governments to address the malnutrition problems in this population segment. In the past five years, 800,000 people have received counselling on infant and childcare, maternal and child nutrition and health, and 155,000 pregnant women have received 90+ iron folic acid supplements (IFAs).

Nutrition International successfully tested Weekly IFAs in 50 schools in Lodhran, Punjab, to prevent anaemia in teenage girls. The programme is now being expanded to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

“Nutrition plays a key role in economic and human development”, noted by Dr. Irshad Danish, Senior Advocacy Advisor at Nutrition International and Head of the Global SUN Civil Society Network.

He underlined that attaining gender equality and development depend on every woman and girl having access to a healthy diet.

Dr. Danish called for immediate action to produce and analyse data for planning, scale up nutrition programmes in flood-affected areas, strengthen governance and multi-sectoral coordination for nutrition, and increase public funding for nutrition in order to solve the malnutrition epidemic.

Discussions on the importance of active media in easing hunger crises were emphasised. In addition to advocating for nutrition to stay a top priority on the political agenda and ensuring that the proper policies, adequate budgetary allocations, governance structures, and actions are implemented to encourage accountability among stakeholders, it was highlighted that the media can play a significant role in raising public awareness of nutrition and healthy diets.

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