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Pakistan School of Journalism: Australia awards hold seminar on eliminating hidden hunger and nutrition

Mishal Pakistan and Australia Award Held Session with Journalists on Smart Policy Making on Eliminating Hidden Hunger and Nutrition. The Initiative will make policy makers accountable through media vigilance.
The initiative would also facilitate the knowledge flow among key stakeholders to “Eliminate Hidden Hunger and Nutrition Challenges” – Saif ul Islam Saifi, President Khyber Union of Journalist

Media needs to become part of the development agenda in Pakistan, to ensure transparency and accountability for quality service delivery to the citizens, this was concluded at the session on Smart Policy Making on Eliminating Hidden Hunger, today at the Peshawar Press Club. The session was attended by senior journalists, field reporters, media and development professionals, representatives of civil society and academia.

Mishal Pakistan, the Country Partner Institute of the Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking Network of the World Economic Forum with support from the Australian High Commission, Islamabad held a special session for the journalists working on health public policy. The session was designed to encourage journalists and media professionals to understandthe concept of smart policy making on eliminating hidden hunger and nutrition awareness.

Senior Journalist and President, Khyber Union of Journalist, Saif ul Islam Saifi, said this is an important initiative, where media can revive public’s trust in institutions, however this requires professionalism and dedication to report on facts. He emphasized the need for research and hard work for young journalists to progress in journalism as a career.
mir Jahangir, Chief Executive Officer of Mishal Pakistan, while briefing the members of the journalists’ community said, “The Smart Policy Making initiative is to bring media at the core of the development agenda in Pakistan, the initiative will ensure policy making through data and real time feedback. This will alsomakepolicy makers accountable to the people. This would not only help the parliamentarians to improve service delivery to the citizens but would also contribute in improving Pakistan’s competitiveness on global footing, while creating accountability through media.

Dr. Ejaz Habib, Nutrition Focal Point of the World Food Program made a presentation and briefed the participants about the current situation of Hidden Hunger in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said, the per capita monthly cost of nutritious diet varies throughout Pakistan, it is at Rs. 2,061 in Punjab, Sindh 2,306, Balochistan 2,415, while it lies at Rs. 2,152 in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, still it remains out of the reach of an ordinary citizen. He said, media can play a crucial role in raising the awareness among the communities and various stakeholdersrelevant to this important issue for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Prof. Zafar Iqbal, Chairman Department of Mass Communications, International Islamic University Islamabad and Shabir Wahgra during their presentations briefed that almost 24% of the population in Pakistan is suffering with Hidden Hunger, while stunting and malnutrition are immediate challenges faced by the society, media is unable to create a public debate on this. The awareness of nutrient deficiency level of Iron and Iodine in Pakistan remains highest especially in the urban community with upto 42.0% and 61.6% respectively. Women and children remain the ultimate victims of these deficiencies resulting in high mortality rates.

Earlier a session was held with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Parliamentarians on Smart Policy Making at the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Assembly. The key focus for the session was to capacitate policy makers for a more harmonized mechanism to ensure service delivery to the citizens. The initiative would also facilitate the knowledge flow among key stakeholders to “Eliminate Hidden Hunger and Nutrition Challenges”.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian High Commission (Australian Aid) has reached out to Mishal to partner and launch a nationwide program to create knowledge resources on Nutrition challenges in Pakistan. The program will address the “Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), Goal No. 2 ‘Zero Hunger’”.

The initiative by Mishal has launched the program to improve the narrative building on Nutrition by engaging various stakeholders including press clubs, journalism associations, policy making institutes and academia across Pakistan.

This collaboration has come into two different phases i.e. Initially in the shape of support for AGAHI Awards, where the Australian Aid is supporting the Journalism Awards in the categories of Eliminating Hidden Hunger, Agriculture and the Food, Water and Energy Security Nexus.”

The second phase of the collaboration between the Australian Aid and Mishal is to build the capacity of journalists and field reporters to create a better understanding on nutrition related challenges, while at the same time it will capacitate the parliamentarians and policy makers to debate suggest and approve Nutrition focused policies for a productive workforce of the future. The initiative is working across Pakistan with focal areas in provincial and federal capitals in Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, AJK and the Federal Capital, Islamabad.

Through this initiative “Eliminating Hidden Hunger”, Mishal will build the capacity of more than 120 journalists and editors, while also engaging more than 60 parliamentarians and members of the federal and provincial standing committees on Food Security, Health and Agriculture etc. The initiative is supported by various development agencies and private sector organizations. The initiative is creating a master class of key opinion leaders in the country on nutrition and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) goal 2.

An estimated 2 billion people — over 30 percent of the world’s population suffer 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. Hidden Hunger’s effects can be devastating, leading to mental impairment, poor health, low productivity, and even death. Its adverse effects on child health and survival are particularly acute, especially within the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, from conception to the age of two, resulting in serious physical and cognitive consequences.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals aim to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030, making sure all people – especially children and the more vulnerable – have access to sufficient and nutritious food all year round. Zero Hunger is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Australia is a lead donor in improving nutrition outcomes in Pakistan. As founding donor, Australia has committed AUD 39 million to the World Bank’s Multi Donor Trust Fund for Nutrition which supports the Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governments to scale-up and sustain an effective response to malnutrition. On a policy level Australian Government supports the National and Provincial Fortification Alliances for improved legislation, coordination and advocacy for fortifying foods with essential vitamins and minerals to reduce high prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies in the population. Australia is also supporting robust evidence generation on malnutrition through its innovative grants scheme, implemented through the Scaling Up Nutrition Academia and Research Network of Pakistan.

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