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Dawn: Effects of ‘hidden hunger’ can lead to poor health, say experts

PESHAWAR: Panelists at an interactive session have demanded of the policymakers to take concrete measures to overcome the malnutrition, hunger and food insecurity issues in the country and achieve sustainable development goals-2 (zero hunger) as per global commitments.

They also called upon media to play its effective role in implementation of development agenda.

The session titled “Smart policymaking on eliminating hidden hunger” was held under the auspices of Mishal Pakistan, an NGO, at Peshawar Press Club on Thursday.

The speakers included Mishal Pakistan chief executive officer Amir Jahangir, nutrition expert Dr Ejaz Habib,WFP representatives, Prof Zafar Iqbal, chairman Department of Mass Communication, International Islamic University, Islamabad, and Shabir Wahgra. Besides, representatives of civil society and journalists also attended the session.

The experts said that an estimated two billion people – over 30 per cent of the world’s population – suffered from deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals.

“Hidden hunger” is how health experts often refer to micronutrient deficiencies because most people affected do not show the visible physical symptoms and hence may not be aware of their condition, they added.

They said that effects of “hidden hunger” could be devastating, leading to mental impairment, poor health, low productivity and even death.

They said that its adverse effects on child health and survival were particularly acute.

“Zero Hunger” is one of the 17 global goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Dr Habib, nutrition focal point of the WFP, briefed the participants about the current situation of “Hidden Hunger”.

Per capita monthly cost of nutritious diet varies throughout Pakistan; in Punjab it is Rs2,061, Sindh Rs2,306, Balochistan Rs2,415, and Rs2,152 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he said, adding that proper diet was still out of the reach of an ordinary citizen.

He said that media could play a crucial role in raising awareness among the communities and various stakeholders relevant to this important issue.

Prof Iqbal and Shabir Wahgra said that almost 24 per cent of the population in Pakistan was suffering with “Hidden Hunger”, while stunting and malnutrition were immediate challenges faced by the society.

Earlier, a session was held with the lawmakers on Smart Policy Making at the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly. The session focused on a more harmonised mechanism to ensure service delivery to the citizens.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2017


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