Malnutrition: A Plea for Urgent Assistance in Pakistan's Health Crisis
By Ali Jafri
Feb 14, 2024
Youth is the pillar of every nation.
In a country where youth is not maximally productive, progress and development
become a big question.
Unfortunately, in Pakistan, children
and youth are badly affected by malnutrition.
Malnutrition in Pakistan is turning
into a growing crisis, affecting around 2.14 million children. This overlooked
challenge is the cause of numerous diseases and even mortality. Additionally,
the alarmingly prevalent issue also gives birth to various economic challenges.
As a responsible citizen, how can you
help Pakistan pave the way for a prosperous future? There is a dire need to
determine the root cause of malnutrition, create effective strategies, and run
Let's shed more light on the issue
and discover some possible solutions:
Deficiency Among Children
Micronutrients are essential for the
growth and development of children. The deficiency of these nutrients hinders
the learning capabilities of school-going children.
Healthy dietary choices are
imperative for the right intake of micronutrients. Shockingly, around 80% of
children in Pakistan are deficient in essential nutrients. These include
calcium, vitamins A and C, zinc, iron, etc. Around 64% of children are deficient
in protein, while 60% are deficient in vitamin C.
of Micronutrients and Poor Immune System
Lack of nutrition badly affects the
immune system. It makes children more
vulnerable to diseases. Iron deficiency is a common example of it. Many
children under five years of age are iron-deficient. Such children often get
sick, struggle with growth, and experience fatigue. Poor cognitive development
and increased absenteeism from school are other consequences of it.
Factors of Malnutrition in Pakistan
Pakistan is among those countries
where wasting and stunting are high in numbers. Stunting doesn't only refer to
the lack of food. It also indicates inappropriate quality of food, poor
nutrition in the early years, and other factors.
Some of them are discussed below:
During pregnancy, the diet of a woman
directly affects the fetus. Inside the womb, a child fulfills nutritional
values through the mother's diet, via the placenta. When the mother doesn't
consume a highly nutritious diet, she transfers the adverse effects to the
Another common reason for
malnutrition is weaning at an early age. Some women quit breastfeeding due to
work, while others feel uncomfortable due to fatigue.
However, breastfeeding provides great
nutrition to the child. Its composition also changes as the child grows. It
contains antibodies and helps reduce the risk of multiple diseases.
Unfortunately, the majority of children in Pakistan are not exclusively breastfed.
Poverty is one of the biggest reasons
for malnutrition in the rural side of Pakistan. Limited access to hygienic
water and high-quality food exacerbates malnutrition. Some families even
struggle to meet their basic food needs. Due to high prices, they choose
low-quality food to satisfy hunger.
Malnutrition is also present among
the people with resources, not just the poor. One big reason is the lack of
awareness. Many mothers are unaware of the significance of proper nutrition.
Good nutrition in the early years of
life can significantly reduce stunting and wasting. Packaged food, fortified
cereals, and food with added sugar are common in busy households. Mostly, these
foods contain preservatives, and they fail to provide high nutritional support.
Giving preference to the male child
is common in many South-Asian countries. Pakistan is one of them. Mostly in
low-income families, the best part of the food is given to a male child.
Females are commonly considered a burden and are not given the same value
regarding food, health, and education.
A healthy woman can give birth to a
healthy child. Sadly, there is no such concept among the majority of Pakistani
families. They believe in feeding their sons and husbands well, as males are
the source of income.
Malnutrition results in multiple
long-lasting consequences. Pakistan suffers badly from the economic
consequences of malnutrition. Here are a few factors related to it:
Nutritional deficiencies among pregnant women increase the
risk of congenital disabilities. It also increases the risk of infant
Practice of early weaning along with vitamin and mineral
deficiencies hinders cognitive development.
Stunting results in poor school performance and also
negatively impacts adult productivity.
Adult anemia decreases productivity in physically demanding
jobs like agriculture, construction, industry, etc.
The combination of the above factors results in negatively impacting economic growth. Individuals with malnutrition need support and assistance. They become an additional responsibility of the government. When the young generation is not productive and supportive, the nation’s development is significantly affected.
the Growing Malnutrition Crises
To address the growing crisis of
malnutrition, there is an urgent need to create effective strategies. New plans
and policies related to education, awareness, healthcare access, and counseling
can bring positive results.
Additionally, starting campaigns that
educate mothers regarding the significance of breastfeeding and early nutrition
is important. Involving community leaders to educate them about the aftermaths
of malnutrition can also be helpful.
Overcoming nutritional challenges is not impossible.
Planning, budget, government support, and implementation can collectively show
Your Support in Eradicating Malnutrition
Together, we can work for this cause
and protect future generations from nutritional deficiency. Let's stand up to
educate the underserved population, create employment opportunities, and spread
awareness. We need your support in this.
Humanity’s Malnutrition Programme
Shine Humanity started The Malnutrition Programme at Gharo. It works in
conjunction with The Community Outreach Programme. The latter aims to screen
children through basic health assessment. Those who are suffering from
malnutrition are treated at our Gharo Clinic, built to treat children suffering
from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).
prescribed them Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) after a detailed health
evaluation by our nurses and doctors. Ongoing assessments were also scheduled
every few months until they are out of the red zone. This practice has
successfully treated several moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) cases in Gharo
and nearby villages.
Support thousands of children suffering from malnutrition in Pakistan. Join hands with Shine Humanity!