Call to make joint efforts to address malnutrition

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ISLAMABAD: Only Sindh has passed Universal Salt Iodisation (USI) law making use and sale of iodised salt mandatory, and other provinces should also follow suit because the salt is very important for human health.

This was stated by Senator Sehar Kamran while speaking to participants of a seminar titled “Universal Salt Iodisation in Pakistan”.

The event was organised by Ministry of National Health Services and National Food Fortification Alliance (NFA) and Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance Pakistan (SUNCSA,Pak) at a local hotel. She said the Sindh govt had introduced a programme to address malnutrition among people especially children.

“All of us should work together to address malnutrition and raise awareness aimed at maximising use of iodised salt. We need to focus through multi-sectoral approach to improve the nutritional status of women and children in Pakistan,” Ms Kamran said.

The PPP leader and former deputy speaker Faisal Kareem Kundi agreed that the use of iodised salt should be made universal in Pakistan.

He vowed to make nutrition part of PPP manifesto and assured his full support to enforcement of the iodised salt law.

While opening the seminar, Chief Nutrition, Planning Commission of Pakistan, Mr Aslam Shaheen, said Universal Salt Iodisation should be made part of all provincial nutrition strategies as this issue can be addressed with multi-sectoral efforts.

“I would encourage all stakeholders including parliamentarians, media, religious scholars, private sector, donors, UN, academicians and civil society to work together for ensuring 100pc USI coverage in Pakistan,” he said.

Country Director Nutrition International Dr Naseer Mohammad Nizamani said according to National Nutrition Survey 2011, only 62.4pc of the mothers had knowledge of iodised salt, while the utilization of iodised salt at household level is 69pc across Pakistan.

Coordinator of National Food Fortification Alliance Dr Khawaja Masood Ahmed said iodine deficiency was the world’s single major cause of mental retardation. “It affects brain development during the early stages of pregnancy and in early childhood. Severe iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) include cretinism, stillbirth and miscarriage and increase infant mortality.

Head of Cooperation EU delegation of Pakistan Mr Bernard Francois said the European Commission was committed to supporting partner countries tackle under-nutrition through evidence based interventions.

National Programme Manager SUNCSA,Pak Irshad Danish while talking to Dawn said that though Sindh government had done legislation in 2013, regarding iodised salt, its implementation was also very important.

“Though currently 69pc households are using iodised salt in Pakistan, its use should be extended to 100pc. Iodised salt is the only success story in Pakistan in health sector. All stakeholders should sit together to achieve the target,” he said.

Article first appeared in the Dawn.




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