PESHAWAR: Role of media for highlighting the impact of malnutrition was discussed in a meeting organised by the Scaling Up Civil Society Alliance Pakistan and the Nutrition International with the collaboration of the United Rural Development Organisation (URDO) here in Peshawar.
The journalists pledged to actively play their role for prioritising nutrition agenda at the policy and programme levels at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well as raise public awareness on the adverse effect of malnutrition to bring about behaviour change.
On the occasion, Dr Kashif Nazeer of the Planning and Development Department highlighted the importance of media’s role for public opinion making. He shared the initiatives taken by the provincial government for implementation of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Multi-sectoral Integrated Nutrition Strategy – launched in December 2014 – and progress made for addressing the malnutrition situation in the province.
He said that the session would be productive and media would play its crucial role for overcoming malnutrition challenge. SUN Civil Society Alliance Pakistan Coordinator Aliya Habib presented the overall context of malnutrition and status at the national and the provincial level. She highlighted that malnutrition not only effects individuals but has dire economic and developmental impacts for the community and the nation as well.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has high rate of stunting among children under-five at 47.8 per cent as compared to 43.7 per cent of the national average. The current malnutrition had been estimated to cost Pakistan’s economy $7.6 billion (3% of GDP) annually. She emphasised that a multi-sectoral and holistic approach including short- and long-term evidence-based approaches to address malnutrition.
While discussing the role media can play, journalists expressed their resolve for tackling the malnutrition challenge head-on. They suggested writing news articles, blogs, and case studies, media feeds on nutrition and food security issues. They said that emphasising the human side of malnutrition through focused case studies was the way to attract and sustain the attention of the public and policymakers.
SUNCSA Executive Council Member Zaheer Khattak, who is also the executive director of the United Rural Development organisation, thanked all the participants particularly media for their time and attention and requested to highlight the malnutrition issue through their platform. A nutrition core group of media persons was formed at the end of the session to prioritise nutrition from policy to grass root levels.