Tackling malnutrition, food security and poverty is key to healthy economy: Minister Ahsan Iqbal

Islamabad, December 08, 2014 (PPI-OT): “Human Resources are pivotal to economic and social development. To realize inclusive economic growth, people must be healthy. But the non-planning in the past on the development of social sector in Pakistan has led to some serious issues of food insecurity and malnutrition”, said the Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Prof. Ahsan Iqbal while chairing a seminar on poverty, consumption, food security and nutrition in Pakistan in the planning commission today.

He said, “Malnutrition reduces the learning capabilities of children which compromise economic productivity in the long run. Pakistan Vision 2025 has targeted to reduce malnutrition up to 50%”. He added.

“We are committed to address the issues of poverty, malnutrition and food insecurity through joint and collaborative approach between provinces and federation. A mechanism of networks is being established by the planning commission to co-ordinate with business community, academia, civil society etc to address the issues of food insecurity and malnutrition”.

He said, “The government is committed to enhance spending on health to 3% of the GDP. We are developing a shared understanding of the health value chain in partnership with provinces and general public.

The government has joined UN scaling up nutrition (SUN) movement in 2013 to combat malnutrition based on the principle that all people have a right to food and good nutrition. A Zero Hunger Cell has been established in Ministry of National Food, Security and Research in collaboration with WFP to overcome hunger and malnutrition”.

While acknowledging the role of poverty as a trigger to malnutrition, the Federal Minister said, “Vision 2025 encapsulates Social Protection Policy which is aimed at reducing poverty, creating employment opportunities and strengthening marginalized people’s capabilities to mitigate their risk and vulnerability.

To meet these objectives, government’s income support program has expanded in size and scope. The Benazir Support Program has already extended services by providing additional financial support for each child in school. Under the Prime Minister’s youth program the government is providing young people training and access to finance so that they can start business”.

The seminar was jointly organized by Pakistan Strategy Support Program (PSSP) and Planning Commission and attended by various stakeholders from Ministry of National Food, Security and Research, donor agencies such as UNICEF and USAID, PSSP, FAO etc.

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