islamabad - The government is aiming to increase spending on health to three per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and has claimed to reduce malnutrition up to 50 per cent under Pakistan Vision 2025.

“Human resources are pivotal to economic and social development. To realise inclusive economic growth, the people must be healthy. But the non-planning in the past on the development of social sector in Pakistan has led to some serious issues of food insecurity and malnutrition,” said Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Prof Ahsan Iqbal while chairing a seminar on poverty, consumption, food security and nutrition in Pakistan here at planning commission office on Monday.

He said, “Malnutrition reduces the learning capabilities of children. Pakistan Vision 2025 has targeted to reduce malnutrition up to 50%.” He added, “We are committed to addressing the issues of poverty, malnutrition and food insecurity through joint and collaborative approach between provinces and the federation. A mechanism of networks is being established by the planning commission to coordinate with business community, academia, civil society etc to address the issues of food insecurity and malnutrition.”

He said, “The government is committed to enhancing spending on health to 3% of the GDP. We are developing a shared understanding of the health value chain in partnership with provinces and general public. The government joined UN scaling up nutrition (SUN) movement in 2013 to combat malnutrition based on the principle that all people have a right to food and good nutrition. A Zero Hunger Cell has been established in ministry of national food, security & research in collaboration with WFP to overcome hunger and malnutrition.”

While acknowledging the role of poverty as a trigger to malnutrition, the federal minister said, “Vision 2025 encapsulates social protection policy which is aimed at reducing poverty, creating employment opportunities and strengthening marginalized people’s capabilities to mitigate their risks and vulnerability. To meet these objectives, the government’s income support programme has been expanded in size and scope. The Benazir Income Support Programme has already extended services by providing additional financial support for each child in school. Under the Prime Minister’s Youth Programme the government is providing young people training and access to finance so that they can start their own business.”

The seminar was jointly organised by Pakistan Strategy Support Programme (PSSP) and Planning Commission and attended by various stakeholders from ministry of national food, security & research, and donor agencies.