Planning and Development Punjab in collaboration with World Food Programme Pakistan (WFP) organized the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 “call to action event” here on Thursday. The event was hosted in order to reiterate the government’s commitment towards achieving SDG 2: “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.”
Minister for Primary and Secondary Healthcare Imran Nazeer stated that the Punjab government was fully committed towards drastically lowering the malnutrition indicators in the province. He articulated that the P&SH Department has the right strategies and programmes currently underway to approach the problems of malnutrition in all 36 districts of the province with efforts being directed towards service delivery and behavior change communication to ensure that the problem of malnutrition was dealt with a forceful hand.
He also said that the department was also prioritizing the challenge of malnutrition in southern Punjab that depicted the highest malnutrition rates in the province through the inclusion of a new programme focused on southern Punjab. He commended the efforts of P&D Department and WFP in gathering key stakeholders together and reiterating the commitment towards SDG 2 in the call to action event.
Planning & Development Chairman Muhammad Jehanzeb Khan, while inaugurating the session, stressed that it was imperative for Pakistan to meet the targets laid out under SDG 2 by 2030 especially with regard to improving mother and child nutrition. The burden of the endemic on Pakistan’s economy was enormous with Pakistan losing $ 7.6 billion or 3pc of its GDP as a result of malnutrition. He stated that for Punjab‘s responsibility to fight this endemic was even greater. “We must lead the call against malnutrition and hunger, for it was not only about establishing food sufficiency, but about enhancing future economic growth and sustainable development of the province and ultimately our country.
Economic growth was just one benefit of an improved nutritional standing of the province-attendance at schools, increased literacy, increased employment and increased standard of living – were all drivers that should motivate us to work together for nutrition.”
One of the key sessions of the event was a panel discussion lead by P&D Member Health Dr Shabana Haider titled ‘Meeting the SDG 2: existing challenges in Pakistan, lessons for Punjab and the way forward’. The panel consisted of renowned speakers including Patchamuthu Illangovan, Country Head World Bank, Cecilia Garzon Head of Nutrition Unit WFP, Noor ul Amin Mengal DG Punjab Food Authority, Dr. Baseer Achakzai, Director Nutrition/ Secretary National Fortification Alliance, Naseer Nazamani Country Director Nutrition International Pakistan, Amir Jehangir Media and Communication Expert and Dr.Syed Saeed Qadir, Nutrition Officer UNICEF Pakistan.
The discussion revolved around the attainment of SDG-2 with particular focus on Governmental efforts, Inter-sectoral coordination, communication, policy development, technological advancement, Public-Private-Partnership and social entrepreneurship. The session was very successful in identifying some of the key challenges that the province currently faces, and identifying the way forward for a more collaborative and focused effort.
UN Residential Coordinator Pakistan Neil Buhne appreciated Punjab government efforts and expressed UN’s commitment towards SDG 2 attainment– with particular focus on Mother & Child Nutrition. He expressed his support for Punjab’s all future endeavors, and appreciated Member’s (Health, Nutritrion & Population) efforts in making Nutrition a Priority in Punjab.
MNA Shaista Parvaiz Malik, Iftikhar Ali Sahoo Secretary, Planning & Development Department, Nasim Sadiq, Secretary Livestock, Neil Buhne, UN Residential Coordinator Pakistan, Finbarr Curran Country Representative WFP, Patchamuthu Illangovan, Country Head World Bank, Dr Stephen Davis, Country Representative IFPRI, Angela Kerney Country Representative UNICEF also attended the event.