KARACHI: The percentage of underweight, stunted and having biological related issues-children under the age of five years in Pakistan is alarming and reported as 31.5 percent, 43.7 percent and 15.1 percent respectively.
However this varies to some extent in provinces, but everywhere the level of under-nutrition is well above the prescribed standards, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) threshold of 15 percent for Global Acute Malnutrition, beyond which the situation is considered an emergency. Yet, there has been little action on improving nutrition in Pakistan.
Dr Shehla of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) addressing a seminar ‘Grow Healthy Pakistan’ organised by Tetra Pak on Saturday informed the audience rate of under-nutrition has remained unchanged in Pakistan for over half a century.
According to National Nutrition Survey, The percentage of stunting children in Sindh reported 50 percent in 2011 while it was 48 percent in 2001, 39 percent recorded from Punjab in 2011 while it was 38 percent in 2001, 48 percent reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) in 2011 while it was 46 percent in 2001.
Similarly 52 percent reported from Balochsitan in 2011while it was 43 percent in 2001. Overall, the percentage of stunting children under age of 5 in Pakistan has been recorded 44 percent in 2011 while in 2001 it was 42 percent.
Both the state and international donors have started to pay attention to the issue, and so far, much of the impetus for action has come from the latter group of actors, she said.
Underweight difference is quite minor in urban and rural areas of Pakistan. Around 13 percent of urban and 9 percent of rural areas children are underweight.
To play its social responsible role, Tetra Pak has announced to help government and other stakeholders for eliminating nutrition issue from the country by launching its ‘School Milk Programme’.
A large number of doctors and other distinguish guests were present on the occasion.
Mariyum Mustafa of Tetra Pak said, “We have launched our ‘School Milk Programme’ lately from Khairpur as a pilot project, where we distribute milk packets among pupils.”
The programme is running in 62 countries worldwide and so far around two billion milk packets are distributed. The output of the practice is admiring and lauded by civil societies and other stakeholders, she said.
This time we are focusing Pakistan and programme has been initiated in rural areas of Sindh. “We will take school administrations and parents on board and will distribute milk packets weekly among pupils.” Mariyum Mustafa informed due to lack nutrition in loose milk 4 inches height in upcoming generation is reduced excluding exceptional cases. “Nutrients are destroyed when milk is boiled at home for several minutes, while at the same time the temperature at which milk is boiled at home can never be high enough to completely destroy all bacteria or microorganisms,” she claimed.
Mariyum said, “On the contrary, during the Ultra Heat Treatment process milk is exposed to ultra high temperature for only 4 seconds, which kills bacteria only not nutrition.”
Fahad Maral of Tetra Pak said, “We know the large number of enrollment is missing from schools but we are a Company and it is not our responsibility to increase enrollment to higher percent. This is government’s responsibility. We have initiated this work as a social responsibility so that nutrition issue could be eradicated but without support of stakeholders, government and donors it was not possible. Dr Syed Ibrar Hussain and Dr Nelofar also addressed the audience.
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