Iodine Global Network (IGN)

Pakistan: Punjab government launches SUN movement

The Punjab government has launched Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Secretariat/ programme with support of Micronutrient Initiative (MI) at P&D department as in Pakistan 45% of children are stunted, this was the third highest percentage of stunted children in the world and means that more than 9.6 million suffering from malnutrition.

Addressing the launch ceremony Provincial Minister for Labour and Human Resource Ashfaq Sarwar, said Punjab Government was committed to improve the nutrition status of its population, especially children and women. Nutrition has always been an ignored and less addressed subject.

He reiterated that Fortification Initiatives, SUN Movement and Multi-sectoral Nutrition Strategy would play a vital role in improving the nutrition situation in the province. "My parliamentary colleagues would work together and would play their role in raising voice, prioritising budgetary allocation and advocacy for necessary legislative cover", Raja Ashfaq added. Khawaja Imran Nazir, Parliamentary secretary for Health said Pakistan is currently facing a silent crisis of malnutrition that is amongst the worst in the world and had not improved for decades.

Results from the 2011 National Nutrition Survey (NNS) indicated minimal change over the last decade in terms of core maternal and childhood nutrition indicators in Pakistan. In children under 5 years of age, 43.7% were stunted as compared to 41.6% in 2001; 15.1% were wasted compared to 14.3% in 2001 and 31.5% were underweight compared to 42% in 2001. Vitamin A status had deteriorated and there had been little or no improvement in other micronutrients eg Iron Deficiency Anaemia - 61.9%, Zinc deficiency 39.2%, and vitamin D deficiency - 40.0%.

The only success story has been iodine status which improved. He assured his full support regarding legislation for mandatory food fortification programs in Punjab that would help in reaching fortified food, to poorest of the poor in the province. Muhammad Jahanzaib khan Chairman, Planning and Development Punjab thanked micronutrient initiative and all partners for their role in supporting the provincial government to overcome the menace of malnutrition in Punjab.