ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday directed the authorities concerned to launch a nationwide programme, in coordination with the provincial governments, to overcome the challenge of child stunting. The prime minister, chairing a meeting to discuss the issue of child stunting, also called for the formulation of a comprehensive plan for the protection of children against fatal diseases, for population welfare and for coping with the health sector issues. According to the World Health Organisation, child stunting refers to a child who is too short for his or her age and is the result of chronic or recurrent malnutrition. Stunting is a contributing risk factor to child mortality and is also a marker of inequalities in human development. Prime Minister Shehbaz said that the Federal Government, in collaboration with the provincial governments, would take priority measures for better child growth to achieve the country’s bright future. Similarly, a nationwide awareness campaign was also equally essential to do away with the issue of stunting, he added. He thanked the international experts participating in the meeting which featured the presentation of statistics on the children’s growth by the World Bank. The participants were told that a significant ratio of children in Pakistan suffered stunted growth caused by the lack of basic healthcare and nutrition, contaminated drinking water, poor cleanliness, and lack of awareness of children’s growth. Besides, the statistics about the prevalence of TB, hepatitis, diabetes and other fatal diseases in Pakistan were also highlighted and suggestions were put forward to overcome them. The prime minister instructed the relevant authorities to immediately present a comprehensive plan on the matter. Federal ministers Ahsan Iqbal, Ahad Khan Cheema, PM’s Coordinator Malik Mukhtar Ahmed, Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Jahanzeb Khan, World Bank Country Director Najy Benhassine, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan Abdullah Fadil, Country Director of World Food Program Coco Ushiyama and other internationally renowned experts attended the meeting. The provincial chief secretaries Dr Zulfiqar Ali Bhutta, Dr Sajid Sufi, Dr Ijaz Nabi and other experts joined the meeting via video link. The prime minister, talking to a delegation of international beverages companies which called on him here, said that the government was extending its maximum support to the foreign investors and business community to make them create employment opportunities, boost exports and contribute to the national economic development. The delegation members appreciated the prime minister for his government’s pro-business policies. They told the prime minister that 25 plants of international beverages firms were operating in Pakistan and had employed around 130,000 workers. Apprising the prime minister of the their largest recycling system, the delegation told the prime minister that the beverages firms were contributing to the national exchequer through huge amount of taxes. Prime Minister Shehbaz urged the companies to play their productive role under their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).He also instructed the relevant authorities to hold consultations on the companies’ proposals and resolve their issues at the earliest. The delegation was led by Vice President of Coca Cola for Pakistan and Afghanistan Volkan Onguc and CEO of Pepsi Co Pakistan and Afghanistan Muhammad Khosa. Federal ministers Jam Kamal Khan, Rana Tanveer Hussain, Abdul Aleem Khan and relevant senior officers attended the meeting.



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