Business Recorder: Panelists for steps to overcome hunger, food insecurity
Panelists at an interactive session have demanded of the policymakers to take concrete measures to overcome mal-nutrition, hunger and food insecurity issues in the country, besides achieving the sustainable development goals-2 (Zero Hunger) as per global commitments. They also called upon the media to play its effective role in implementation of development agenda in the country. The session titled: “Smart policy making on Eliminating Hidden Hunger, held under auspices of Mishal Pakistan, a non-government organisation at press club here on Thursday.
Notable speakers including Amir Jahangir, Chief Executive Officer of Mishal Pakistan, Dr Ejaz Habib, Nutrition expert and representatives of World Food Programme, Professor Zafar Iqbal, Chairman Department of Mass Communications, International Islamic University Islamabad, Shabir Wahgra, senior journalists, field reporters, media and development professionals, representatives of civil society and academia also attended.
The experts said an estimated 2 billion people – over 30 percent of the world’s population suffers from deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals. They pointed out that “Hidden hunger” is often referred to micronutrient deficiencies because most people affected do not show the visible physical symptoms and hence may not be aware of their condition, they added.
The experts further stated that hidden hunger’s effects can be devastating, leading to mental impairment, poor health, low productivity, and even death. They added that its adverse effects on child health and survival are particularly acute, especially within the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, from conception to the age of two, resulting in serious physical and cognitive consequences.
The participants informed that the UN Sustainable Development Goals aim to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030, making sure all people – especially children and the more vulnerable – have access to sufficient and nutritious food all year round. Zero Hunger is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The experts said that the awareness of nutrient deficiency level of Iron and Iodine in Pakistan remains highest especially in the urban community with up to 42.0% and 61.6% respectively. Women and children remain the ultimate victims of these deficiencies resulting in high mortality rates.
Dr Ejaz Habib, Nutrition Focal Point of the World Food Program made a presentation and briefed the participants about the current situation of Hidden Hunger in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said, the per capita monthly cost of nutritious diet varies throughout Pakistan, it is at Rs 2,061 in Punjab, Sindh 2,306, Balochistan 2,415, while it lies at Rs 2,152 in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province but still an ordinary citizen can not afford it.
Mr Habib stressed that the media can play a crucial role in raising the awareness among the communities and various stakeholders relevant to this important issue for KP province. Professor Zafar Iqbal, and Shabir Wahgra during their presentations briefed that almost 24% of the population in Pakistan is suffering with Hidden Hunger, while stunting and malnutrition are immediate challenges faced by the society, media is unable to create a public debate on this.
Earlier a session was held with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Parliamentarians on Smart Policy Making at the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Assembly. The key focus for the session was to capacitate policy makers for a more harmonized mechanism to ensure service delivery to the citizens. The initiative would also facilitate the knowledge flow among key stakeholders to “Eliminate Hidden Hunger and Nutrition Challenges”.