Healthy Diet Policy to help control child disease proliferation: Dr Shahzad

The speakers at the seminar on National Healthy Diet Policy demanded the government to ensure holistic consultations with all stakeholders including the youth and women to ensure robust policy document intended to curb growing child diseases.
The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) organised the seminar titled “From Concept to Action: Food Pathways Through Healthy Diet Policy” here at the SDPI Conference Hall.
In her presentation on the title theme by Khansa Naeem, Associate Researcher SDPI informed the participants that 37.6% of children under 5 years of age were stunted while 7.1% children under the age of 5 were wasted whereas obesity was recorded among 7.5% of women and men in the country. She added that diet is an important component of health that has less focus of the masses and stakeholders.
In his remarks, Dr Shahzad Ali Khan, Vice Chancellor and Dean Health Services Academy said unhealthy diet has emerged as a universal phenomenon in Pakistan, whereas there is no convincing model to persuade poor population on quitting unhealthy diet. He added that bad eating habits and lifestyle has created universalization of poor and unhealthy diet across the country.
He said Pakistan has a law on Breast feeding for mothers to administer their milk to babies for two years and banned advertisement of mother’s formula milk.
“According to a survey, 72% women are feeding formula milk and 90% of those respondents claimed that their doctors had prescribed them which is illegal as per the law. SDPI should take the lead to incorporate a right-based approach component in the policy on breast feeding,” Dr Shahzad Khan said.
He informed that there was 11% more risk of contracting diarrhea among children who were not fed mother’s milk. It should be declared as the fundamental right of the baby to get human milk through breast feeding, he added.
“Healthy diet concept needs to be addressed from mother’s feed as it will help reduce disease risk among children,” he added.

He added that 72% health of an individual is determined by the diet nutrition intake. “Healthy diet policy is an important consideration because without healthy diet no health is possible.”
Pakistan, he said is currently having double burden of infectious and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). He mentioned that the problem of unhealthy diet was highly prevalent in upper income groups along with lower income groups.
He urged the stakeholders to ensure effective advocacy and communication campaigns to manage bad advertisements promoting unhealthy diets.
Dr Mehreen Mujtaba, Director Nutrition, Ministry of National Health, Services, Regulations and Coordination said 67% of our population did not have access to healthy diet, whereas the data of the national nutrition survey was old and repeatedly quoted at different forums.
“17.7% of children in Paksitan are wasted and the World Health Organisation has declared it an emergency. Pakistan required strong political leadership to champion the goal of healthy diet,” she said.
She added that the Ministry of Health along with partners intends to support policy making process on healthy diet through inclusive feedback from the provinces.
She also underscored the need for multisectoral stakeholders’ engagement involving academia, youth and private sector as part of the policy making process.
Dr Mehreen suggested to develop locally contextualised healthy recipe books to promote healthy food depending on the provinces with their local translations.
Faiz Rasool from GAIN said Pakistan is a country facing serious malnutrition issues that demanded the country to declare a malnutrition emergency but our policy landscape analysis revealed no such guiding document on ground.
“Our NCDs are increasing at a very high pace but no guidance available to address the issue whereas dietary diversity and healthy diet needs to be added in our curriculum,” he added.
Faiz Rasool noted that youth and women were not included in the policy making process, whereas 64% of the country’s population was young but had no contribution in the policy areas.
“UN Foods System Summit urged not only Pakistan but all member states to focus on food to address health issues and diseases. Healthy diet is considered expensive but it is cheaper and accessible whereas lack of information is hampering masses access to it,” he added.
The National Healthy Diet Policy would have to address data issues, inclusiveness and robustness with feedback of all stakeholders making it a guiding document for all,” he said.
Deputy Executive Director, SDPI, Qasim Ali Shah in his vote of thanks said that the country over the years has evolved its discourse on food security and nutrition, whereas the National Healthy Diet Policy will help us identify our goals to be achieved in the future, he added.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.