ISLAMABAD - The Federal Government has introduced the Pakistan Nutrition Initiative (PANI), a comprehensive national program to address malnutrition in 36 high-impact districts across the country.
Under the leadership of Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Mohammad Jehanzeb Khan, the National Nutrition Forum (NNF) convened, bringing together key stakeholders from federal ministries, provincial planning and development departments, as well as international partners, including UN agencies and non-governmental organizations.
The NNF, operating within the Planning Commission, takes a lead role in harmonizing nutrition programs and policy planning on a national level. Secretary of the Ministry of Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives (MoPDSI), in his welcome address, emphasized the government’s dedication to tackling malnutrition as an essential component of development and a key factor in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He announced the launch of PANI, a Multi-Sectoral National Nutrition Program. PANI aims to promote healthy dietary practices, prevent and treat wasting and stunting, advocate for public-private partnerships, and prioritize early childhood development. The initiative will target 36 severely affected districts, including 12 in Balochistan, 10 in Sindh, 5 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 5 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 2 in Punjab, and 2 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, all of which face high rates of stunting, along with issues related to floods and poverty.
The Chief Nutritionist at MoPDSI highlighted the importance of nutrition and presented an overview of the current nutrition landscape. The PANI initiative, which will be a significant component of Pakistan’s nutrition strategy, was also discussed in detail.
Member of the Federal Services and Coordination Committee (FS&CC) at the Planning Commission, Ms Nadia Rahman, stressed the need for multi-sectoral coordination, extending this coordination to households. She encouraged nutrition development partners to align their resources with PANI and proposed tracking nutrition investments and mapping ongoing activities undertaken by various stakeholders. Additionally, she recommended conducting a comprehensive multi-sectoral nutrition survey to gather updated data and emphasized the importance of financial tracking for nutrition-specific interventions.
Participants commended the government’s efforts, particularly the launch of PANI, in addressing malnutrition. They emphasized the need for innovative approaches and up-todate data, especially considering the challenges posed by epidemics like COVID-19 and natural disasters like floods.
In closing, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Mohammad Jehanzeb Khan, stressed the importance of a multispectral approach to address the challenges in mother and child nutrition. He highlighted that while development partners play a catalytic role, the government must take primary responsibility. He recommended the establishment of a national nutrition dashboard to monitor key indicators and underscored the significance of Early Childhood Development (ECD) in shaping resilient and capable individuals through nurturing cognitive, social, emotional, and physical growth.