ISLAMABAD-Parliamentarians on Wednesday met to discuss search ways to address the malnutrition challenges and chalk out strategy and way forward for institutionalizing malnutrition response at policy and implementation through the Parliament.

A statement issued said that a consultative meeting with parliamentarians/SDGs task force members was organized by Parliamentary task force on SDGs with the collaboration of Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance Pakistan (SUNCSA Pakistan) and Nutrition International.

The objective of the meeting was to discuss the role of parliamentarians for addressing the malnutrition challenge facing Pakistan and chalk out strategy and way forward for institutionalizing malnutrition response at policy and implementation through the parliament.

Dr. Nausheen Hamid, Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination, said that malnutrition was interlinked with economy, if we wanted to progress as a nation we need to focus on solutions to eliminate malnutrition.

While highlighting the role of legislators she said it is the time that we work together to take the policy and legislation for effective implementation.

Sharing the objective of the meeting, Dr. Shabina Raza, Country Director Nutrition International/Secretary SUNCSA, Pak said that sustained political will is a must for improving malnutrition situation and Parliamentarians are the key catalyst for bringing about this change, she added.

She highlighted the role of Parliamentarians for ending malnutrition in the country and briefly shared SUN Civil Society Alliance’s successful engagement with the Parliamentarians and political leaders.

She expressed the hope that today’s meeting discussion will facilitate in identifying specific directions and going a step further for establishing parliamentary oversight forum for nutrition.

Briefing the Nutrition situation, Ms. Aaliya Habib, SUNCSA Pakistan Coordinator shared that Nutrition is directly linked to 12 of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Malnutrition adversely affects human physical and mental development. She added that 37 per cent Pakistanis are food insecure (NNS 2018).

The country has the third highest proportion of stunted children in the world; four out of 10 children less than five years of age are stunted which makes 40% while 18% suffer from wasting. More than half - 57% - of adolescent girls in Pakistan are anaemic.

In the discussion session, the parliamentarians suggested useful ways to improve the nutrition salutation. It was agreed that nutrition need to be embedded in different sectors like education, agriculture, climate change, and social protection so effective improvement can be seen.