ISLAMABAD - Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr. Sania Nishtar on Sunday inaugurated the Pak Korea Nutrition Centre (PKNC) at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF).
Dr. Sania was invited as a chief guest to join the launching ceremony of the centre, said a news release issued here.
Established under the Ehsaas framework (Policy # 59), the national nutrition centre, ‘PKNC’ is the first of its kind, meant to address the malnutrition issue that has hit more than 50 percent of the population.
Dr. Sania also thanked the government of Korea for their collaboration.
At the university, Dr. Sania was warmly welcomed by the Vice Chancellor of UAF, Professor Dr. Iqrar Ahmed Khan; Professor Dr. Masood Sadiq Butt, Dean Faculty of Food, Nutrition and Home Sciences; Professor Dr. Tahir Zahoor, DG National Institute of Food Sciences and Technology; and other faculty members.
Principally aimed at improving child and community nutrition, PKNC has been established at the Faculty of Food Nutrition and Home Sciences with the total funding of Rs1.5 billion for a period of over three years. Collective funding comprises Rs1.15 billion from Korea International Cooperation Agency’s (KOICA) and the remaining funds from HEC/PSDP.
The project will train government officials, nutrition policy makers 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, Dr. Sania 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 centers on human capital development, of which a healthy diet is a core component.”
During a presentation, Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmed Khan and his colleagues presented the technical modalities of potential school meals programme in detail.
Dr. Sania continued that the government has also institutionalised the inter-ministerial nutrition task force, headed by the Prime Minister and there are eight cabinet ministers sitting on the task force.
It is quite unique as this is the first time that inter-ministerial set up has been created to shepherd nutrition, she said.
The Ehsaas Nashonuma, she further added, is a conditional cash transfer program aimed at tackling stunting among children less than two years of age, along with pregnant and lactating mothers. In the first phase, 50 Ehsaas Nashonuma Centres have been opened across 14 most stunted districts of Pakistan.
On the occasion, Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan said that the centre is established in partnership with Korea that will help bring 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.
Prof Jaehan Kim from Chungnam National University, South Korea together with senior representatives of partnering universities—Karakorum International University, Gilgit-Baltistan; Bolan Medical University, Balochistan; University of Agriculture, Peshawar; University of Agriculture, Tandojam; Faisalabad Medical University; and Children Hospital Faisalabad also joined the meeting.
During the visit, Dr. Sania was also briefed about the disbursement of Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarships. 1,868 Ehsaas scholarships were given to UAF this year-50% for girls.
She also awarded Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarships among eligible students of UAF. She interacted with awardees to gain insights on Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarship Policy. “For the academic year 2020/21, total 92,003 scholarships worth Rs. 8.4 Billion are being awarded,” Dr. Sania said.