Sep 19, 2011

Sindh: Disproportionately Suffering From Malnutrition

Sindh Province in Pakistan is suffering significantly from malnutrition with one of the highest rates in the country, according to a report. Many children are said to be stunted, and a large portion of people are said to be severely malnourished.

Below is an article published by The Nation:

The National Nutrition Survey (NNS 2011), which was launched on Saturday [18.09.11], showed that Sindh had one of the highest rates of malnutrition in the country.

In Sindh 17.5 per cent of children under five years suffer from acute malnutrition, nearly seven per cent being severely malnourished. These results are way above WHO’s emergency threshold of 15 per cent, which indicates a critical nutrition situation. In addition, half of all children are stunted, a sign of long-term malnutrition.

The NNS 2011 also reports Sindh as the province with the highest proportion of food insecure people. Nearly 72 per cent of the population is food insecure and do not have access to enough food.

The situation can only be expected to get worse with the onset of current floods and the resulting loss of property, food stocks and the damage to standing crops. Last year’s post-flood nutrition survey had reported acute malnutrition rates as high as 23.1 per cent in the affected areas of Sindh. 

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has started distribution of food in the flood-affected areas of lower Sindh and is scaling up its efforts rapidly. “The WFP is taking practical steps to stabilise and improve the nutritional levels of the affected population. We will also scale up our targeted feeding programme, where we identify the acutely malnourished and provide a special supplementary food for children under five,” Dominique Frankefort, WFP Acting Country Director said. 

The food ration WFP is distributing in the flooded areas includes fortified wheat flour, pulses, high energy biscuits, wheat-soya blend, iodised salt, cooking oil (fortified with vitamin A&D).

In addition, the ration package includes ready-to-use supplementary food (RUSF) that does not require any preparation and can be eaten by kids straight from the packet. 

Recognising its link to shortage of quality food and poor feeding practices, the WFP is working with local companies to produce the RUSF. Previously, these foods had to be imported. “While we address the nutritional needs of people,” elaborated Dominique, “we have built the capacity of the local food processing industry.”