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Pakistan launches its new “Dietary Guidelines for Better Nutrition”

  |   SUN Civil Society Network, SUN Country Network, SUN UN Network

The Ministry of Planning and Development and Reform in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations launched the ‘Pakistan Dietary Guidelines for better Nutrition’ (PDGN) held at PPMI , Complex Islamabad. PDGN are comprehensive dietary guidelines for the general public to adopt healthy eating practices, and reduce the risk of diseases in the communities.

Prepared taking inputs through an extensive consultative process across the country, the PDGN guides and calls for an action for people from all walks of life including policy makers, planners, academia, civil society, UN agencies, private sector and people at large to follow in reaching healthy and productive life by achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Mr. M. Aslam Shaheen, Chief Nutrition/SUN Focal Point, MPDR welcoming the ceremony said that it’s a matter of pleasure for me to welcome you all at the launch of “Pakistan Dietary Guidelines for Better Nutrition”. The development of these guidelines is the joint effort of Ministry of Planning, Development & Reform and Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.  This is a great moment for all stakeholders especially its technical team from academicians and researchers who have contributed in accomplishing this very important task and now we are releasing the document which was direly needed and extremely beneficial for the general public of all ages. It is also an important tool for all those who are involved in the publicising and implementation of this document.

Dr Nomeena Anees Nutrition Expert from FAO presented a comprehensive overview of dietary guidelines.  She started her presentation with a famous quote of Hippocrates

‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’. She empathized the role of diet in everyday life and its impact on physical cognitive social domains of life and productivity and social economic development. She elaborated the dietary messages for the population to adopt and the healthy lifestyle for betterment and wellbeing. She said that it’s a live document and will be improved further when FCT based on information in 12 ecological zones will be finalized shortly.

Delivering the overview of PDGN FAO Representative in Pakistan Ms. Mina` Dowlatchahi said that it is an opportune time to disseminate the dietary guidelines, when the country is confronted with challenges of diet associated dise­ases. It is a long-awaited document which has been formulated for the first time in a very comprehensive way to guide the different segments of the population which would be helpful in adopting healthy dietary practices and lifestyles to overcome the widely prevalent nutritional and health problems of the country.

Giving his remarks Dr Muhmmad Azeem Khan Member (Food Security & Climate Change) Planning Commission said that the document has been reviewed and finalized in the light of feedback/guidance of the core committee, technical committee and renowned nutritionist & dietitians from the academia and research organizations. He emphasized that despite self-sufficiency in food, the country is confronted with the challenges of hunger, malnutrition and disease which need to be addressed through sustainable, cost-effective and culturally acceptable nutrition interventions. Moreover he added that the emphasis of the PDGN is on the consumption of safe, diversified nutritious foods including milk and milk products, meat and pulses, wholegrain cereals, vegetables and fruits and decreasing consumption of energy dense foods such as deep fried foods, bakery products, processed foods and reducing the amount of fat specifically saturated fat, oil, sugar and salt in cooking, as there is a strong relationship between diet and disease, specially non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and others that are associated with poor dietary habits. However, physical activity is critical for all population groups to remain physically fit, healthy and strong for active participation in nation building activities.

Emphasizing the importance of good nutrition for health Dr. Nausheen Parliamentary Secretary MoNHSRC said that the nutritious food during pregnancy and exclusive breastfeeding of children during first six months and continued breastfeeding up to 2 years with complementary feeding is very essential for raising nutrition status of the children and appropriate diet is one of the most important factors for maintaining health and nutrition wellbeing. However, imbalanced diet leads to increased health issues and affects nourishment in different stages of life consequently creating physical & cognitive deficits. Minister of health will be strategizing reducing the sugary foods, drinks and junk foods through legislation and quality improvement to overcome malnutrition. She said that according to PEMRA rules 10 percent are so time allocated for public service messages for awareness among the population which may be use for nutrition awareness for dissemination PDGN messages.

Addressing the ceremony Ms. Kanwal Shauzab, Parliamentary Secretary for MPDR said that the nutritional awareness has emerged as the critical aspect to address malnutrition which plays a pivotal role in the overall nutrition and health wellbeing. These guidelines provide a framework to guide the population in the selection and consumption of a variety of safe and nutritious foods that are easily available, affordable, meet the daily nutritional requirements, boost the immune system against communicable and non-communicable diseases and promote healthy lifestyles.  She added that these guidelines also serve as an essential resource for policy makers, programme managers and professionals engaged in promoting nutritional and health status of the population. She added that the federal government is in process of developing its 12th five year plan (2018-23) and nutrition is included as a separate chapter to address the malnutrition critically focusing 1000 days and beyond. Some of the key nutrition interventions and programs including nutritional mass awareness, provision of specialized nutritious foods and mitigating the data gaps have been prioritized. She emphasized that the media should play its role and raise awareness and disseminated the messages of the PDG for benefit of the population.

Delivering the remarks on the PDG Ms Saira Ifthikar Global Nutrition Champion and Ex MPA from Punjab said that we should celebrate the launch of this document. However we should ensure food security to the population through some mechanism from surplus to food deficit region.

 


Mr Javed Humyun joint secretary of Ministry for National Food Security & Research said that despite sufficiency and food production the POU is there in twenty percent population due to distribution and other constraints. The Ministry is in the process of designing PC1 for zero hunger to overcome malnutrition.

The representative form word food program, Unicef , WHO , Donors and academia appreciated the efforts of MPDR and FAO for preparing this document for betterment of all segments of population and use of  policy planners, project , food production sectors and media to benefit of community.

Ending the launching ceremony Mr. M. Aslam Shaheen, Chief Nutrition/SUN Focal Point, MPDR give vote of thanks to everybody who have participated in this launch!

The event was attended by Government representatives from various federal & provincial ministries, International Donor; Development agencies, UN agencies, Development Partners, INGOs, Civil Society organizations and senior media persons.

• Pakistan Dietary Guidelines for Better Nutrition – English

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