Quetta, PK – 07 October 2013.A seminar was held in the Department of Journalism, University of Balochistan about the role of Journalism in promoting evidence based health policy for reducing child mortality & the state of malnutrition in Balochistan. The objective of the seminar was to raise awareness on the subject issues, highlight the importance of child health and mortality and the role of malnutrition as a contributing factor in under-5 mortality in Pakistan in general and Balochistan in particular and to ensure increased reporting on these subjects. The seminar was organized by Save the Children’s EVERY ONE Campaign in collaboration with Mishal Pakistan with the support of Research and Advocacy Fund (RAF).
Addressing at this occasion member provincial assembly Mr. Nasrullah Zeere said that every child – no matter where or to whom they are born – has an equal right and deserves an equal chance to survive. Being a legislator I will raise this issue in Baluchistan assembly because there is a dire need to address this issue. It is unjustifiable that children still die from pneumonia, diarrhea, measles and other conditions that the world has both the knowledge and resources to cure. In 2000, the world’s leaders agreed, making a commitment to ‘reduce the under-five mortality rate by two thirds by 2015′ in Millennium Development Goal 4.
Senior journalist Syed Ali Shah said that the nutrition challenge facing the province is substantial. Balochistan, which constitutes 44% of Pakistan’s land mass and contains some of the country’s richest natural resources, has a dangerously high rate of nutritional stunting among children under age 5 (52.2%) as compared to 43.7% of the national average. The prevalence of underweight children is 39.6% as compared to 31.5% of the national average, while wasting prevalence is 16.1% as compared to 15.1% of the national average. As per World Health Organization’s standards, a national average of 15% or above is labeled as an “EMERGENCY”. These figures have not changed significantly in the past decade and require special attention at all levels.
‘We all know what needs to be done but now it’s about generating the political will to do that. We require a repeated call to action and pressure from the media and civil society to help tackle the issue and if prioritized, malnutrition can be ended in a generation in Pakistan. The role of media is crucial in not only highlighting the issue of malnutrition and putting pressure on the government to respond to the situation with policy, legislation and budgetary allocation but also by creating awareness among the masses said chairman journalism department Yousaf Masih.
More than 350,000 children die in Pakistan every year before their fifth birthday and 35% of these deaths are due to malnutrition said Mr. Asif Farooqui, Chief Operating Officer Mishal Paistan. Addressing the dilemma of malnutrition is critical for achieving MDG 4 and urged the provincial government to adopt and implement nutrition strategy that entail nutrition education, Community based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) and Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) guidelines to reduce the burden of malnutrition in Balochistan. The Convention of the Rights of the Child (1989), states that “States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health …” and shall take appropriate measures “to combat disease and malnutrition” he said.