KARACHI: ‘Since 1965 until 2011, we have made virtually no progress in bringing down the levels of malnutrition, especially when it poses to be one of the greatest threat to the life.’ declares National Nutrition Survey Report.
In Pakistan, where malnutrition is never treated as a subject to be addressed, 35 % of the people die of it each year. The ever-increasing rate with which it is rising especially after the recent floods in the interior parts of the Sindh including Badin, Sanghar and Mir Pur Khas, severe nutritional deficiencies have killed and crippled hundreds.
An interesting insight to the scenario was when Dr. Atif Habib (AKUH ) revealed during a seminar at the local hotel, organized by Save the Children organization was, ‘Malnutrition is positively correlated with maternal illiteracy.’
Poverty alone is not the proponent of nutritional deficiencies but the lack of maternal awareness about the intake of balanced diet by their children has led to acute anemia and severe iron and calcium+vitamin D deficiencies among people, especially those who are flood-stricken. He revealed that only 36% of the Pakistani population consumes 5 of the food groups and the rest survive on less than that. To add to it, only 42% people are food secure, and the rest, though they strive each day with no certainty whether they would be successful in eking out the victuals of life.
Fifty percent of the women in Pakistan have alarmingly low levels of calcium and 23.2% amongst them face severe vitamin D deficiency. This has led to serious birth complications mostly stillbirths and the anathema is that mothers bequeath this deficiency to their children who also become the infant shareholders in the heritage.
Illiteracy brings a host of issues with it. It turns people blind to sanity and cleanliness issues, and makes their homes breeding grounds of germs that eventually claim their residents’ lives.
Sindh, the province hit worst by the floods stand at a critically high level of malnutrition. Mothers are unable to feed their newborns for their milk has dried up owing to lack of food; the children have stunted growth and serious ailments that are solely the outcome of acute nutritional deficiencies.
Dr Khalid, additional secretary Heath Department asserted that, ‘ Government alone can not be held responsible for countering malnutrition on such a massive scale, a concentrated and multi-pronged effort is needed to counter the enemy.’
This issue, though often ignored, is clamoring for attention. It calls for government’s interest, people’s support and sympathy and active work on the part of the local and international NGO’s to muster up against this malady inflicting our generations.