President Dr Arif Alvi on Thursday said malnutrition in children had a direct link with mother’s health
and stressed that reverting to natural practices including breastfeeding, could overcome child mortality
and stunted growth.The President was addressing at the inaugural ceremony of National Nutrition
Conference that gathered medical and health experts from across the country.He said 29 percent
children up to age five, were underweight which showed several underlying problems, besides the rest
of 10 percent overweight children in the country. He said fifty percent, having deficiency of Vitamin A
and 63 percent lacking Vitamin D despite immense sunlight in the country, showed the need for change
in lifestyles towards good health. The President lauded Prime Minister Imran Khan for highlighting the
issue of stunted growth in his first address to the nation, adding people needed to be sensitized on
becoming concerned about their health and food intake.He said the main reason why Pakistan was
facing this alarming health situation, was in fact ‘unlearning of natural lessons’ such as breastfeeding
and choose the right kind of food. He mentioned that preferring infant milk formula over breastfeeding
was a big reason of malnutrition and asked the Health Ministry to keep a check on its marketing as a
step towards reversing the loss of future generations. The President said breastfeeding, also advised by
the Holy Quran, was also a natural way for child birth, spacing as mother’s health was clearly linked with
malnutrition and neo-natal mortality.Dr Alvi said food fortification of wheat and edible oil could help
overcome malnutrition as the successful controlling of goiter was done by the government, by adding
iodine to salt.He said Pakistan Nutrition Committee, which was monitored by the Prime Minister,
already had defined the dietary guidelines, which needed to be pass over to the public, the forty percent
of which was unaware of the issue.He stressed the need for a comprehensive approach to address the
issue of malnutrition and also through raising awareness among the people. He also termed narrow
variety of food another reason of malnutrition present in all classes. He said recognition of health issues
was the basic to be owned by government and parliamentarians with entire nation as the shareholder
for its resolution. President Alvi said learning from experiences of experts in the past and also previous
governments, was necessary to avoid wastage of resources and choose the next line of action by setting
definite time-frame for implementation. He said the responsibility of media was absolutely important
in encouraging the nation to fight challenges, rather than creating despondency among them. He said
instead of only focusing on news happenings and political debates, the media needed to focus on social
issues as well and allocate a separate slot for it. He urged upon the playwrights to create awareness
on health issues through their characters and contribute to nation-building through positive ideas. Dr
Alvi said Pakistan was on a tipping point as if the nation worked with determination, nothing could stop
it from becoming a healthy and wealthy country.


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