ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Planning Development and Reform with support from the World Food Programme (WFP) Wednesday launched the Pakistan Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy 2018-25 (PMNS) to address the nutrition issue being faced by the country. The document was developed through a consultative process, involving national and sub-national level stakeholders, and was linked with the provincial inter-sectoral nutrition strategies, aligned with the Pakistan Vision 2025 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).The document has been prepared taking inputs of all the sectors. The strategy guides and provides an overarching framework for developing a strategy plan for increased coverage or scaled up equitable and high-quality nutrition services including both sensitive and specific interventions. Addressing the launching ceremony, World Food Programme Country Director Finbarr Curran said Pakistan as a scale up nutrition country has been striving to improve nutrition indicators and the government has taken many positive strides in this regard. He, however, said ensuring good nutrition is not the responsibility of just one entity or a sector, instead it involves a wide range of partners working together to achieve results.Member Food Security and Climate Change Planning Commission Pakistan Dr Azeem Khan appreciated the importance of PMNS and said the initiative is very timely as federal government is fully sensitized about the situation of malnutrition and its impact on economic growth. To improve nutrition situation, an amount of Rs 10 billion has been earmarked in PSDP 2018-19. He emphasized to utilize budgeted amount on interventions identified in the PMNS. He acknowledged participation and support from provinces and line ministries, donors, UN, nutrition development partners, INGOs and civil society who have been associated actively in the development of strategy and will be helpful in its implementation. Focal Point SUN Pakistan Chief Nutrition Aslam Shaheen said PMNS has been developed through an extensive process with provincial governments and all stakeholders. “We all have to work together to implement this strategy to overcome malnutrition which is widely prevalent and causing 3% GDP loss annually,” he said, and added that nutrition now lies in the priority of development agenda and the federal government and provincial governments are now investing on it.Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Director Nutrition Dr Baseer Achakzai said PMNS provides clear road map and suggests practical intervention for addressing the malnutrition. The advocacy for nutrition has been adequately promoted and everybody is now discussing issues around the matter. It is encouraging that Planning Commission and the health ministry are on the same page for handling malnutrition and PMNS will serve as a guiding document in this regard, he added.National Programme Officer SUN Secretariat Dr Sadaf Sardar presented the salient features of the document and said after the devolution, the federating units developed their own inter-sectoral, integrated nutrition strategies. However, owing to the urgency for an effective and timely response to the Pakistan Vision-2025 and global commitments, AJK, FATA, Gilgit-Baltistan and ICT were in need of programmatic support in multi-sectoral nutrition interventions to overcome the burden of malnutrition through national structures, she said.Secretary Ministry of Planning Development and Reform Shoaib Siddiqui said the government was fully committed to overcome the issue of malnutrition and save its future generation from getting into cognitive and physical malnourishments. Besides ongoing nutrition development projects, more than Rs 10 billion have been allocated in the current PSDP which could be increased if required, he said.Owing to the urgency for an effective and timely response to the Pakistan Vision-2025, he said with the launch of this strategy the need for long-awaited comprehensive framework has been fulfilled and this document will facilitate all the stakeholders to discharge their responsibilities with more clarity.Malnutrition is a multi-faceted issue and its solution lies in concerted efforts of diverse sectors which are engaged in multi-sectoral planning, sectoral implementation and multi-sectoral monitoring, accountability and learning. This requires an enabling environment to shape political, institutional and policy processes for improved nutrition in the country.Pakistan is among the fast growing economies of the world with exciting economic growth rates, however the burden of malnutrition has not much improved over the decades. Malnutrition not only adversely affects country’s gross domestic product (GDP) but seriously impacts the country’s most important asset – the future human resource.The launching ceremony was attended by large number of government officials, development partners, civil society and academia from all over the Pakistan.Published in Daily Times, May 17th 2018.