Nature-based solutions, civic sense on water conservation crucial to address Pakistan’s water scarcity: President Alvi

ISLAMABAD-President Dr Arif Alvi on Tuesday, terming water scarcity a big challenge for the climate-hit Pakistan, said taking urgent steps such as nature-based solutions and developing civic sense about water conservation were need of the hour. 
He regarded water-related disasters including shortages as the major sign of climate emergency and emphasized taking the issue as a major preoccupation by governments, corporate organizations, and citizens. In his video-link address to the closing session of the 6th Karachi International Water Conference, he said there was a need to bring attitudinal changes among the public by educating them to consciously use water. 
The conference gathered local and international experts on environment and food security that highlighted the serious water-related challenges facing the country in the wake of climate change. President Alvi said adopting the architecture of water bodies on the lines of ancient techniques was important to address the challenge of water scarcity. He said using technology and managing water conservation cycles such as flood and drip irrigation could also overcome the problems of food security. 
The president proposed the pricing of water to develop a civic sense among the citizens to ensure conservation about the commodity. He said Islam as a religion also focused on being cautious while using natural resources such as water to avoid wastage. Dr Alvi said a World Bank study in Pakistan showed a link between malnutrition and poor quality of water which inhibited the absorption of healthy minerals in the body. He emphasized that the climate and water emergency had exposed the underlying dysfunctions in global, national, and local economies and showed how these systems failed to produce economic, environmental, and social justice for people. He proposed developing platforms with the involvement of the communities to encourage them to follow preparedness, and resilience initiatives on water conservation.  The president lauded the establishment of the Panjwani-Hisaar Water Institute (PHWI) at NED University in Karachi, calling it a demonstration of sincerity and commitment to a national cause and making a difference. He hoped that the deliberations at the two-day conference would contribute significantly to action on the ground on issues related to water, food, and livelihood security. President Engro Corporation Ghias Khan, Vice Chancellor NED University, Dr Sarosh Lodhi, Chairperson Hisaar Foundation Sami Kamal, and academia attended the conference, according to a press release.
President calls for national policy to address mental health issues
 President Dr Arif Alvi has emphasized the need for formulation of a national mental health policy to address the mental health issues in Pakistan. 
He said that 24% population of the country was facing various mental health issues and it required an institutional framework and public-private partnership to provide mental health services to the people. 
The president expressed these views while chairing a follow-up meeting on mental health in Pakistan, at Aiwan-e-Sadr on Tuesday. A detailed presentation by the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination on the National Mental Health App “Humraaz” highlighted that more than 240,000 calls had been received since its launch in April 2023. The President appreciated the launching of “Humraaz” that was providing mental health assistance and counselling services to the people in need. 
The president called for improving the effectiveness of the Humraaz app, besides strengthening the mental health support system in the country. He highlighted that mental health was a major concern for Pakistan which required coordinated efforts by both the public and private sectors to utilize their expertise. He further emphasized the need for an integrated approach on all mental health-related programs and initiatives to effectively address the mental health challenge being faced by the country. 
He urged the need for the capacity building of human resources, besides providing online trainings to overcome the shortage of mental health professionals. The meeting underscored the need for raising awareness about mental health issues to educate the people about the importance of seeking mental health counselling. The role of the family in providing psychological support and helping manage health issues was also highlighted. During the meeting, the need for collective measures and an integrated approach involving various stakeholders, including relevant ministries, Pakistani psychiatric associations based in the USA and the UK, and civil society was also stressed. 
Federal Minister for Health Services, Regulations and Coordination appreciated the role played by president Dr Arif Alvi and the first lady in raising awareness about various health issues in Pakistan. He expressed the hope that the precedent set by the Presidency would be sustained and followed. 
The meeting was attended by the Federal Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Dr Nadeem Jan, and representatives of the National Commission for Human Rights, the World Health Organization, and senior government officials. Representatives of the provincial health departments, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan Psychiatric Society, Taskeen Health Initiative, Pakistan Psychological Association, Pakistani American Psychiatric Association of North America, British Pakistani Psychiatrists Association, other organizations working on mental health attended the meeting via video link. 

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