PESHAWAR, Pakistan: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday launched the Ehsaas Nashonuma Program that will tackle stunting and improve the nutrition of the poorest children in Pakistan, emphasizing that there is no place for malnutrition in the 21st Century Pakistan.
The launch officially took place at the Ehsaas Nashonuma Center set up in Dogra Headquarter Hospital in Khyber Tribal District.
The prime minister visited the Center and interacted with the staff, and beneficiary women and their children present at the registration, check-up/anthropometry, awareness, and specialized nutritious food distribution counters.
At the launch event, the Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr. Sania Nishtar briefed the prime minister about the wide-ranging services being provided under the Ehsaas Nashonuma Program.
Dr. Sania Nishtar demonstrated the android based Ehsaas Nashonuma app as well that will enable the electronic registration and tracking of beneficiary women and children under 23 months of age.
“Ehsaas Nashonuma” will focus on improving nutrition and health in the first thousand days of life, the most critical period in early childhood development, starting at conception and finishing at age two.
The nutritional status of new-borns and infants is directly linked with the health and nutritional status of the mother before, during and after pregnancy.
Currently, 40 percent of children in Pakistan are impacted by stunting due to malnutrition, with significant consequences for their health and educational outcomes.
Under the program, every quarter conditional cash-transfers will be provided to the poorest pregnant and lactating women and those with children under two years old, totaling Rs 1,500 for each boy child and Rs 2,000 for each girl child.
The beneficiaries will be identified through Ehsaas Kafaalat and payments will be conditional upon the consumption of specialized nutritious food, immunisations, and attendance of health awareness sessions.
The program is fully funded by the government of Pakistan.
The new program will sit under the Ehsaas umbrella initiative headed by Dr. Sania Nishtar who accompanied the prime minister at the launch.
“Widespread malnutrition is holding our Country back and previous governments have failed repeatedly to take concrete action. Ehsaas Nashonuma will be the first-time serious efforts have been made to give all children in Pakistan the best possible start in life,” Dr. Sania Nishtar said.
“This flagship initiative is a cost-effective way to target the most vulnerable young children and improve their outcomes by addressing a number of interacting factors including nutrition, immunizations, and health promotion through education,” she added.