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Creating Healthy Futures for Kids Across Pakistan
For years, Action Against Hunger has stood in solidarity with the people in Pakistan, helping them recover from crises ranging from natural disasters to political conflicts. Now Pakistan is confronting another urgent crisis—alarming rates of childhood malnutrition. Nearly half of children under five in the country are chronically malnourished, and another fifteen percent suffer from life-threatening acute malnutrition. As a result of these high numbers, nearly thirty-five percent of young child deaths nationally are related to malnutrition. To ensure these children get to have healthier futures, Pakistan has pledged to make nutrition a national priority, and we are expanding our support to help them reach their goals.
Scaling Up Nutritional Support
Positive steps have been taken already; in April, Pakistan joined the global Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement. SUN allows countries to collaborate with donors and partners in development to increase nutritional interventions where they are most needed. As a part of this network, Pakistan is now committed to developing and implementing national and local nutrition plans for its vulnerable citizens.
Recognizing that addressing malnutrition is critical for overall development, the Government of Pakistan agreed with donors and development partners to develop federal and provincial nutrition plans of action. The World Bank, DFID and Asian Development Bank have agreed to coordinate the response to these strategies.
- Excerpt from Scaling Up Nutrition profile of Pakistan
Critical Care for Women and Children
Two groups that are particularly vulnerable to malnutrition and food insecurity are women and young children. Proper nutrition is especially important during the thousand-day window between the start of a woman’s pregnancy through her child’s second birthday. Children who receive nutritional care during this critical timeframe have a better chance of growing into healthy, productive adults. So as a part of the effort to scale up nutrition support in Pakistan, the European Union (EU) has launched a four-year program called Women and Infant Nutrition in Sindh (WINS), which aims to reach more than one million malnourished women and children in Sindh province.
We are proud to be an implementing partner for the WINS program. Over the next four years, our teams will work in cooperation with other aid organizations to address the immediate needs of affected communities, and we will help strengthen the capacity of government agencies to effectively respond to the nutrition crisis. In 2012, we treated 164,000 Pakistani people for malnutrition—the investment from the EU will enable us to expand our reach and treat nearly 230,000 people this year.
Pakistan faces a crisis, but it also faces an opportunity. In tackling high rates of malnutrition, the government can give hundreds of thousands of the country’s children a brighter future. By signing on to the SUN movement and implementing programs like WINS, government officials are already making progress to help those most in need. And we will continue our support as Pakistan advances its fight against deadly hunger.
Tell Us What You Think
Why do you think malnutrition is as big a national crisis as a natural disaster?