Sunday, 27 November 2011

MALNUTRITION: Pakistan: increasing at alarming rate across province

November 24, 2011 : Staff Report
LAHORE: The percentage of children suffering from chronic malnutrition in Punjab has increased to 39 percent as compared to 32.5 percent in 2001 referring to the deplorable condition where two out of every five children are malnourished, revealed the National Nutrition Survey 2011 – Punjab.

To make the report public, an event titled “Provincial Dissemination of National Nutrition Survey 2011, Punjab” was organised by the Bureau of Statistics Punjab Planning and Development Department in collaboration with the UNICEF at a local hotel on Wednesday.
Addressing the audience on the occasion, Punjab Health Special Secretary Dawood Muhammad Bareach said that the rate of acute malnutrition was about 14 percent. Quoting from the survey report, Dawood said that the children in the province were exposed to the threat of death, being susceptible to numerous diseases owing to malnutrition.
He said that the percentage of children with iodine deficiency had increased, however, those with anaemia and other deficiencies, including that of Vitamin A, remain unchanged since the last survey of 2001.
Dawood added that the current survey revealed that deficiency of Vitamin D was more common among children now, and was one of the major public health problems in the province.
Separately, the health secretary informed that the provincial government had taken the results of this new survey very seriously and was working closely with the UNICEF and other partners to reduce malnutrition amongst vulnerable children as well as pregnant women.
He said that one of the leading causes of this malnutrition was the devastation caused by the 2010 monsoon floods that contributed heavily in the spread of diseases and malnutrition.
Punjab Bureau of Statistics Director General Shamim Rafiq, quoting form the survey report, said that almost 30 percent of households in Punjab were food insecure due to lack of access to adequate food. Almost one-third of the children across the province were underweight, and the situation was even worse for children in the rural areas. He stressed on the need to make concerted efforts to combat the issue of malnutrition.
Punjab UNICEF Health and Nutrition Specialist Dr Tahir Manzoor, Aga Khan University Maternal and Child Health Department Head and professor Dr Zulfiqar A Bhutta, NIH Deputy Director Nutrition Dr Baseer Khan Achakzai, and UNICEF Country Representative Dan Rohmann also spoke on the occasion and urged that sustainable efforts were needed to tackle the crucial issue.

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