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ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar on Friday examined the functioning of newly launched Ehsaas Nashonuma Programme in South Punjab, a federal government's initiative under Ehsaas Programme that aims to provide healthcare to pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as minor children facing stunted growth due to malnourishment.

In this regard, she paid a visit at a government hospital in tehsil Jampur of district Rajanpur "to inspect the quality of service delivery in the field."

Country Director, World Food Programme (WFP) in Pakistan, Christopher Kaye, and senior government officials dealing with Ehsaas Programme accompanied her, an official statement said.

She reviewed wide-ranging services designed for improving the nutrition and health of vulnerable children from conception to two years old, the statement added.

Conditional cash transfers are given under Ehsaas Nashonuma Programme to the poorest pregnant and lactating women and those with children under two years of age- Rs 1,500 for each male and Rs 2000 for each female child, the statement said adding that cash payments are conditional on the consumption of specialized nutritious food, immunizations and attendance at mandatory health awareness sessions.

"This programme will provide a solid, context-driven and scalable model for integrating nutrition-sensitive approaches within social protection platforms. The action is anchored upon the need to address high rates of malnutrition in Pakistan where the highest burden is within the poorest segments of the population." Nishtar said during her visit.

"Nearly 40 percent of children in Pakistan are affected by stunting. Needless to say that Ehsaas Nashonuma Programme focuses on the first 1,000 days window of opportunities and planned nutritional services will address nutrient gaps that are critical for improving birth outcomes and preventing stunting," she added.

Launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan last month, the Ehsaas Nashonuma Programme has been rolled out after extensive spadework in 35 centres in nine of the 'poorest' districts in the first phase. These districts are Khyber, Upper Dir, Bagh, Ghizer, Hunza, Kharmang, Kharan, Badin, and Rajanpur and is executed in collaboration with the WFP Pakistan.

Later in the day, Dr Nishtar also reviewed the ongoing Ehsaas National Socio-economic Registry survey operation currently underway in all tehsils of Rajanpur.

Door-to-door computer assisted survey is being carried out nationwide in a phased manner to collate real-time data of all households and is likely to be completed by the end of 2020.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020