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Australia helps scale up fortification initiatives in Pakistan

Australia helps scale up fortification initiatives in Pakistan

The project aims to strengthen policy, advocacy for legislation and the coordination capacity of the alliances to scale up fortification initiatives in Pakistan.

ISLAMABAD – Provincial Fortification Alliances of Sindh, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have been formed to strengthen policy, advocacy and the coordination to scale up fortification initiatives in Pakistan.

The World Food Programme (WFP), the Australian High Commission and the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (MNHSRC) have officially launched the Provincial Fortification Alliances of Sindh, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

The event was attended by the Minister MNHSRC, Ms Saira Afzal Tarar, High Commissioner of Australia, Ms Margaret Adamson, WFP Pakistan Representative, Ms Lola Castro, Federal Secretary, MNHSRC, Mr Ayoub Sheikh, provincial government representatives, officials of provincial and federal Health and Nutrition Departments, members of the civil society and partner organisations.

The Fortification Alliances form a platform for multi-stakeholder fortification coordination at federal and provincial level. The forum including the National Fortification Alliance, consists of relevant federal and provincial government ministries and departments, UN agencies, CSOs, the private sector and other national and international agencies in charge of planning, monitoring, advising and supporting sustainable fortification efforts in Pakistan.

The Minister, Ms Saira Afzal Tarar, said that the National Fortification Alliance constituted under the MNHSRC is playing a key role in policy making, coordination, oversight and monitoring of food fortification programs in the country. It is an important body to address the issue of harmonization and collaboration and serves as a platform to bring all provincial governments, UN agencies, nutrition partners and stakeholders together. “Support of WFP and the Australian Government in strengthening the NFA secretariat in the Nutrition Wing and its provincial chapters through the Provincial Fortification Alliances is really commendable” she added.

The project generously supported by the Australian Government aims to strengthen policy, advocacy for legislation and the coordination capacity of the alliances to scale up fortification initiatives in Pakistan.

Australian funding is providing critical support, allowing the National and Provincial Fortification Alliances to work through a public private partnership model working with multi-sectoral stakeholders for coordination, the development of policy frameworks and agreement on fortification standards.

“Australia is committed to support the Government of Pakistan in its efforts to battle the crisis of malnutrition”, said the Australian High Commissioner, Ms Margaret Adamson, speaking at the event. ‘Food Fortification is globally recognised as one of the most cost effective interventions for improving the nutritional status of the population at a large scale. Fortification of routinely consumed foods, like wheat and edible oil with micronutrients is particularly effective as these are used in everyday meals throughout the country”, she added.

“Fortification, a preventative and long term intervention to overcome micronutrient deficiencies in the general population including women of child bearing age and pregnant and nursing women, is one of the most cost effective nutrition programmes” said Lola Castro, WFP Pakistan Representative.

“Vitamin and mineral deficiencies impact morbidity, mortality and quality of life. We are very grateful that the Australian Government recognizes the importance of sustainable fortification and that they have been supporting relevant efforts led by MNHSRC with technical expertise from WFP and partners such as UNICEF, GAIN, and MI.”

WFP aims to assist 7.7 million people, between 2016 and 2018, in close partnership with the Government to ensure the improvement of food security and nutrition among displaced and returnee populations, reinforce the resilience of communities living in the most hazard-prone areas, address malnutrition among the most vulnerable segments of the society, particularly pregnant and nursing women and children under five years of age, as well as support a favourable environment for women to achieve social and economic equality.

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