Nutrition plan for 19 districts launched
KARACHI: The Sindh health department on Friday launched a strategic plan to respond to the crisis of high prevalence of acute malnutrition among children and pregnant and lactating women in 19 districts, including 16 flood-affected districts, of the province.
Speaking at the launching ceremony of the Sindh Strategic Nutrition Response Plan (SSNRP), Health Minister Dr Sagheer Ahmad said that it would cost Rs3.8 billion ($43 million) and would be implemented from July onwards with the assistance of international agencies, including the United Nations Children`s Fund (Unicef) and the World Food Programme (WFP).
A nutritional survey conducted last October-November in some flood-affected areas of Sindh confirmed an emergency nutrition situation.
The survey report said that the Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates of 22.9 per cent and 21.2 per cent in the case of children from six months to about five years existed in northern and southern Sindh. These GAM rates exceeded the emergency threshold of 15 per cent, according to the WHO categorisation.
It further revealed that the percentage of malnutrition (moderate) of pregnant and lactating women, which was among the main causes of low birth weight and later on child malnutrition, had been reported to be as high as 11.2 per cent and 10.1 per cent in the northern and southern parts of the province, respectively.
The participants of the launching ceremony were told that in Sindh about 7.5 million people had been affected by the devastating floods. Malnutrition had been a chronic problem due to a lack of hygiene and sanitation, health and also food insecurity.
The health minister said that the plan demonstrated a strong commitment of addressing nutritional challenges identified in the flood-hit communities by providing life-saving treatment and prevention of malnourishment for the most vulnerable women and children.
He said that the SSNRP would help hundreds of thousands of women and children recover from malnutrition.