ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination on Tuesday launched two reports on ‘evidence review on the nutritional status of adolescent boys and girls in Pakistan and ‘the framework for action policies and programmes’ to address this major health issue.
The reports were jointly launched by the Ministry of National Health Services, The World Bank and Global Alliances for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). Addressing the launching ceremony, Additional Secretary Ministry of National Health Services Iqbal Durrani said that the government was cognizant of the situation and was working efficiently to address the issue of adolescent’s nutrition.
He said that these documents would guide provincial governments and partners towards developing programmes and selecting proven interventions to address the adolescent malnutrition. He said that investing in adolescent nutrition means investing in human capital and thus in economic growth. It was generally recognized that the adolescents in Pakistan suffer from malnutrition, he added.
He said that all these studies and documents will help to make strategies to address the issue of adolescent nutrition in the country both boys and girls. He added Nutrition Wing in collaboration with the WHO has already developed national guidelines on adolescent nutrition and supplementation.
He said that malnourished boys and girls will not have the capacity to develop to full potential, acquire an education, bear healthy infants, and participate fully in the labour market and economy.
Director Nutrition Ministry of National Health Services Dr Baseer Achakzai said that the period 10-19 years of age is one of accelerated growth both physically and psychosocially.
He said that boys and girls during this rapid growth phase have increased nutritional requirements of both macronutrients including carbohydrate, protein and fat and micronutrients due to rapid physical growth in girls and accelerated muscle and bone mass development in boys.
At the same time, adolescents often experience poor access to adequate, safe and healthy food and experience challenges completing their education and finding economic opportunities.
He said that some of these challenges are due to low income, poverty and neglect, often coupled with prevailing cultural norms which exacerbate their situations.
The adolescent period, however, presents a window of opportunity to build behaviours and practices that will support good nutrition, health and family well-being well into adulthood. Country Director GAIN Dr Qaiser Munir said that malnutrition is common among adolescents in all regions of the world, South Asia in particular, and impacts have been extensively reviewed.
He said that under-nutrition in girls 10-19 years has inter-generational effects. It contributes to low birth weight and child stunting which, in turn, leads to poor survival, growth and development, and poorer livelihood, they added.