Peshawar – The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has planned to strengthen food fortification programme to counter malnutrition and stunted growth in children and lactating mothers.
To counter stunted growth in children, especially under five years of age in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the government has planned to expand food fortification programme (FFP) to backward districts through its food department to enhance level of nutrition of thousands of stunted children and lactating mothers.
According to KP Food Department officials, under this landmark pro-poor initiative of the PTI government, the process of fortification of wheat flour and ghee had been started to combat micro-nutrients deficiencies in children and lactating mothers.
FFP is a five-year programme launched in all provinces of Pakistan including KP aimed at supporting national and provincial efforts to combat micro-nutrient deficiencies and stunted growth in children and lactating mothers.
FFP was launched in 2016 with assistance of UK government and would continue till 2021 in the country including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Under the key programme, micro-nutrients which were important for growth of children and lactating mothers was being provided to flour and ghee mills to counter the problem of malnutrition and stunted growth in children.
They said that food fortification programme was underway in 84 countries including SAARC and had made necessary legislation in this regard.
Vitamin A and B, folic acid, iron and edible oil, they said, were important for growth of children and its inclusion would help counter malnutrition and stunted growth problems in children.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in many foods and is important for normal vision, immune system and reproduction. Vitamin A also helps heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs to work properly.
The officials said countering of malnutrition was a big challenge for under-developed and developing countries like Pakistan and a draft bill was being prepared that would soon be tabled in KP Assembly after consultation with all stakeholders to counter this issue.
The officials said about 34 percent children were facing problem of low weight and 48pc were facing stunted growth besides 12pc children shortage of vitamin A in our country.
They said these problems were high in children in rural areas as compared to urban areas and this food fortification programme launched by PTI government would help improve nutrition level of children in villages without paying extra amount for atta and ghee to improve nutrition of their children.
The officials said that work on the project was successfully underway in the province and teams of KP Food Safety and Halal Authority were making on spots inspection of these mills to check food fortification.
They said 230 free micro feeders were provided to 130 flour mills from December 2018 to September 2020 in the country which had started fortification in wheat flour. Likewise, 20 ghee mills were registered so far preparing fortified ghee with high nutrition level.
Necessary training has been provided to employees of these flour and ghee mills for fortification besides modern testing kits to Food Authority for inspection.
They said that first-ever Ehsaas Nashonuma Programme had also been launched in KP by the PTI government to prevent stunted growth of children and pregnant mothers.
The government had earmarked about Rs8.52 billion budget for the government funded three-year Nashonuma Programme to prevent malnutrition in children and pregnant mothers.
The project beneficiaries are being provided quarterly stipend of Rs2,000 for girls and Rs1,500 for boys.
More than 33 Nashonuma centres have been established in nine districts on KP including Khyber, Upper Dir, Bagh, Ghizer, Hunza, Kharmang, Kharan, Badin and Rajanpur in the first phase and these districts have been selected on the basis of prevalence of stunting problem.
An application has also been designed to maintain the health record of the beneficiaries and special registration desks have also been set up for beneficiary women at the centres.
Special desks were also setup to maintain data of pregnant and lactating mothers and the height, weight and health condition of their under-two year babies in the country.