Civil Society Alliance (CSA) called upon all stakeholders to play their part in Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) to address Malnutrition practically on war footings
Islamabad: To address malnutrition, the role of civil society organizations was discussed during a national consultation on establishment of Scaling Up Nutrition-Civil Society Alliance(SUN-CSA) organized by development partners including Save the Children Pakistan Program and Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund.
Delivering inaugural remarks, Muhammad Aslam Shaheen, Chief of Nutrition, Planning and Development Division said that the government has agreed with donors and development partners to develop federal and provincial nutrition plans of action and sees nutrition as a key ingredient for overall development.
Dr. Irshad Danish, Advocacy and Campaigns Specialist, Save the Children, said that the national consultation is a major step towards establishing SUN-CSA in Pakistan which will monitor the overall situation of nutrition in the country and advocate for policy and legislative reforms as well as adequate budgetary allocations to address malnutrition in the country.
Sharing overall situation of malnutrition in Pakistan, Mr. Shujaat H. Zaidi, Senior Social Scientist from Aga Khan University said that the country is facing a silent crisis of malnutrition that is amongst the worst in the world and has not improved for decades. “It's a simple fact that nearly half of all children in Pakistan are malnourished, and this undermines their own mental and physical growth, as well as the country's prospects,” he added. Pakistan's leaders must urgently recognize and respond to this challenge, and must prioritize the evidence-based policies and programs which can address this crisis, emphasized Zaidi.
Highlighting the importance of multi sectoral approach for addressing malnutrition, Dr Tauseef Janjua, Country Director Micronutrient Initiatives (MI) said that although nutrition has drawn attention of policy makers, political attention has not materialized into concrete action. He said, currently nutrition interventions are mainly confined to the health sector, while strong political commitment, budgetary allocations, appropriate capacities for implementation multi sectoral nutrition strategies are much needed.
Faiz Rasool, Country Representative GAIN, presented an overview of SUN movement. He said Pakistan signed the global SUN movement in April, 2013. It is a unique movement founded on the principle that everyone has the right to food and good nutrition. It unites people from government, civil society, the United Nations, donors, businesses and researchers in an effort to improve nutrition.
Dr Zaeem Ul Haq Nutrition Network Coordinator, PPAF, said civil society organizations have a powerful voice and can provide grass-roots support for scaling up nutrition locally. CSOs alliance can play an important role not only in terms of holding governments to account but also in terms of supporting governments in achieving commitments made.
Following an orientation by Dr Nabila Deputy Program Manager, NRSP, participants of national consultation discussed ToRs and Governance Structure of SUN- Civil society Alliance .
Dr Abdul Baseer Achakzai, Director Planning and Nutrition, Ministry of National Health Services, Coordination and Regulations emphasized the importance of the role of civil society in highlighting the issue of nutrition and advocating for the implementation of policy and legislation. He appreciated Development Partners for Nutrition for taking practical steps for establishment of SUN CSA in Pakistan and pledged government support to CSA.
Concluding the consultation, Dr. Inaam ul Haque, Senior Health Specialist World Bank and representative of Development Partners for Nutrition Group said that SUN-CSA in Pakistan will play its role in awareness raising, accountability and advocacy that will actually contribute toward archiving SUN movement goals. Dr Inaam said “We require a repeated call to action and pressure from the civil society to help tackle the issue and if prioritized, malnutrition can be ended in a generation in Pakistan”.
Consultation was attended by more than 80 civil Society organizations from all over Pakistan.