Malnutrition: A Plea for Urgent Assistance in Paki...

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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 campaigns.


Let's shed more light on the issue and discover some possible solutions:


Nutritional 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.


Lack 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.


Underlying 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:


Poor Maternal Nutrition


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 child.


Early Weaning

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.


Lack of Awareness


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.


Gender Disparity

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.


Consequence of Malnutrition


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 mortality. 

       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.

Combating 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 positive outcomes.


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.


Shine Humanity’s Malnutrition Programme


In 2012, 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).


We 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!

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