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FAISALABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) Senator Dr. Sania Nishtar Sunday launched a Pak-Korea Nutrition Center (PKNC) at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF). Established under the Ehsaas framework, the national nutrition center, 'PKNC' is the first of its kind, meant to address the issue of malnutrition that has hit more than 50 percent of the population.

Principally aimed at improving child and community nutrition, PKNC has been established at the Faculty of Food Nutrition and Home Sciences with a total funding of Rs. 1.5 billion for a period of over three years. Collective funding comprises Rs. 1.15 Billion from Korea International Cooperation Agency's (KOICA) and the remaining funds from HEC/PSDP.

The project will train government officials, nutrition policymakers and 35 master trainers. The master trainers, in turn, will train over 12,000 nutrition educational experts, lady health workers, nutritionists and primary school teachers, etc. to improve nutrition and child nutrition.

PKNC will comprise six research chairs including nutrition and public health; food fortification; food processing; product development and value addition; database and componential analysis; and policy and advocacy.

Addressing the launching ceremony as chief guest, Dr. Sania thanked government of Korea for their collaboration. She said, "I am particularly keen on exploring the feasibility of developing a school meals programme under the Ehsaas framework in collaboration with University of Agriculture Faisalabad. PKNC will guide the policy direction to address the issue of malnutrition in the country."

She said, "Tackling malnutrition is embedded in the Ehsaas strategy post-COVID-19. Ehsaas aims to promote equalities, which amongst other things centres on human capital development, of which healthy diet is a core component."

Dr. Sania continued that the government has also institutionalized the inter-ministerial nutrition taskforce, headed by the Prime Minister and there are eight cabinet ministers sitting on the taskforce. It is quite unique as this is the first time that an inter-ministerial set up has been created to shepherd nutrition.

The Ehsaas Nashonuma, she further added, is a conditional cash transfer program aimed at tackling stunting among children under two years of age, along with pregnant and lactating mothers. In the first phase, 50 Ehsaas Nashonuma Centers have already been opened across 14 most stunted districts of Pakistan.

However, during a presentation, Vice Chancellor Prof Dr. Iqrar Ahmed Khan and his colleagues presented the technical modalities of potential school meals programme in detail.

On the occasion, Dr. Iqrar Ahmad Khan said that the centre will help bring the tangible results in addressing the daunting issues of malnutrition. He said that more than 50 percent of the population was facing the malnutrition deficiency that is a matter of grave concern. He said we need to change our lifestyle and food habits. He stated that if we blend the wheat with corn, it will improve the malnutrition issue.-PR

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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