KARACHI- A meeting was recently organized by the Scaling Up Civil Society Alliance Pakistan (SUNCSA, Pak) and Nutrition International, with the support from Health and Nutrition Development Society (HANDS).
The meeting revolved around the Media industry and how it can play an important role in the eradication of Malnutrition from the province of Sindh.
Commitment from media is critical for mobilizing and garnering affirmative action to defeat malnutrition, a menace in Pakistan.
During the meeting, many participants from media pledged to actively play their role by prioritizing nutrition agenda, at both policy and program levels in Sindh, alongside raising public awareness regarding the adverse effects of malnutrition, in order to bring about behavioral changes.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Sheikh Tanveer Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer HANDS stated that, nearly half of children under the age of 5 in Sindh are stunted, which means they are short for their age due to chronic malnutrition, a condition that has lifelong consequences on physical and mental development. He also showed appreciation towards the efforts of Health Department, the Provincial SUNCSA Secretariat; Planning and Development Department for leading the response to malnutrition in the province.
Furthemore, he added that media is considered as the fourth pillar of the state, and it can play a powerful and active role through sustained focus on nutrition reporting.
Ms. Aliya Habib, Project Manager, SUNCSA, Pak and Nutrition International, presented the overall context of malnutrition and status at a National level. She highlighted that malnutrition not only affects individuals, but has dire economic and developmental impacts for the community and nation.
She added that Sindh has particularly a high rate of stunting, where nearly half of children under the age of 5 (48%) are stunted, while the prevalence of Wasting is 18% in the province, as compared to 44 and 15 % respectively, as the national average.
The current state of malnutrition had been estimated to cost Pakistan’s economy $7.6 billion (3% of GDP) annually. She emphasized that a multi-sectoral and holistic approach including short and long term evidence based approaches are the need of the hour to address the current malnutrition emergencies.
Pakistan joined the Global SUN (Scaling up Nutrition) Movement in 2013, committing to end malnutrition in the country.
SUN Civil Society Alliance Pak is a coalition of over 150 civil society organizations from all federating units, working for the promotion of nutrition agenda and improving the nutrition indicators of the country. The alliance has an active role in mobilizing political commitment for addressing malnutrition at federal and provincial policy levels.
In an open discussion session, facilitator Dr. Muhammad Irshad Danish- Member SUN Civil Society Network (SUNCSN) said that, media has an extremely powerful and challenging role to play when it comes to disseminating information to the vulnerable sections and catalyzing political ownership to highlight the issue of malnutrition.
Media participants suggested writing news articles, blogs, and case studies, and other contributions on nutrition and food security issues, in order to attract and sustain attention of public and policy makers.
A nutrition core group of media persons was formed at the end of the session to develop a single platform for prioritizing nutrition from policy and program levels to community levels. The media personnel pledged to use their technical expertise and influence the masses in this regard.
This meeting was attended by journalists from print and electronic media, representatives from Nutrition Support Program (NSP), P&DD, Health Department Sindh and Civil Society Organizations.