Islamabad, May 12, 2016 (PPI-OT): Minister National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar said Fortification Alliance constituted under the Ministry of NHSR and C is playing a key role in policy making, coordination, over sight and monitoring of food fortification programs in the country. It is an important body to address the issue of harmonization and collaboration and serve as a plate-form for bringing all the provincial governments, UN agencies, nutrition partners and stakeholders together. While She was addressing the Launching of Provincial Fortification Alliances, which are the provincial chapters of the National Fortification Alliance of Pakistan today in Islamabad.
The Minister said that Soon after the revival of ministry, the nutrition wing was established and Dr Baseer was handed over the task to carry out activities with participants of nutrition and UN agencies and put forward a nutrition policy guideline to keep in view the importance of tackling this menace of micronutrient deficiencies and malnutrition. The NNS was an eye opener. She said there are guidelines and policy notes, but needs actions for implementation at provincial level. She said, Investing in human resource is vital. We need a multi-sectoral approach and legislation to assist flour mills in fortification and increase the fortification efficiency. She stressed upon that time has come to think out of the box. The Minister discussed widely and largely the negative effects of malnutrition on our next generation. She appreciated and thanked the different funding partners and UN agencies for providing the technical assistance that was needed, however, she also emphasized that it is now the responsibility of government of Pakistan and the provincial health departments to carry forward the task with allocating their own resources to address malnutrition.
Minister said Findings of national Nutrition Survey 2011 were an eye opener for all of us. The commitment of the government of Pakistan to Nutrition related issues remains firm and resolute with mission of Health care for all, as utmost priority which is also envisaged in the vision 2025.
She said It is a fact that malnutrition is directly related and a cause of country development, which means 1 $ spending can save us 20-30 folds in so many instances and if we take food fortification targeting the micronutrient malnutrition, this saving can go up to 100 folds.
She said extension of these functions at the provincial level, Provincial Fortification Alliances have been constituted in all the four provinces and today we have gathered here to officially launch these PFAs. These PFAs will act as a platforms for coordinating and oversight of fortification activities at the provinces.
She said support of WFP in strengthening the NFA secretariat in the Nutrition Wing and its provincial chapters, the provincial fortification alliances in the provinces is really commendable. I have also found that other organizations have also committed for similar support which is really reassuring, I must name the Australian High Commission and their continuous support in this regard.
The progress made by NFA since its real activation last year is reassuring and NFA is taking the lead in all fortification related matter. I appreciate the hard work of My Nutrition Team, I also congratulate the provinces for constituting and notifying the Provincial Fortification Alliances.
I strongly feel that with these bodies in place, the efforts toward elimination of hidden hunger would be more coordinated and there would be strong oversight at all levels.
She said the findings of NNS 2011 also suggest that the Nutrition situation in Pakistan really needs our strenuous efforts especially in far flung and under-privileged and less developed areas in the country. Nutrition of mothers and children needs our utmost attention. For it is the children who are the future of our nation.
She said with the combined efforts of federal and Provincial Governments, Development Partners and other stakeholders, we would achieve our targets as committed in SDGs.
“Australia is committed to support the Government of Pakistan in its efforts to battle the crisis of malnutrition”, said the Australian High Commissioner, Ms Margaret Adamson, speaking at the event. ‘Food Fortification is globally recognized as one of the most cost effective interventions for improving the nutritional status of the population at a large scale. Fortification of routinely consumed foods, like wheat and edible oil with micronutrients and vitamins is particularly effective as these are used in everyday meals throughout the country”, she added. Australian funding is providing critical support, allowing the National and Provincial Fortification Alliances to work through a public private partnership model working with multi-sectoral stakeholders for coordination, the development of policy frameworks and agreement on fortification standards.
Earlier at the beginning of the event, Dr. Baseer Khan Achakzai, Director Nutrition and Secretary NFA, in his presentation shared the figures related to malnutrition in Pakistan as revealed by National Nutrition Survey 2011. He said that these alarming figures not only shocked the government but also created opportunities to work together to target these. Provinces have prepared Integrated Nutrition Strategies and their Provincial Nutrition programs with the support of donors and development partners. National Fortification Alliance was re-constituted and re-vitalized in 2013 to address micronutrient malnutrition and as per advice and guidance of the Federal Minister of State, Ms. Saira Afzal Tarrar, the provincial chapters of NFA, the Provincial Fortification Alliances have now been constituted in all the provinces. Food fortification is safe and cost-effective in the prevention of micronutrient deficiencies and has been widely practiced in many countries for well over a century and could contribute to reduce those figures if fully implemented in Pakistan.
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