NI Pakistan is hard at work making nutrition the new tradition, especially for young children.
NI Pakistan continues to focus on saving lives and improving the health of women and children through better nutrition. Our priorities are to:
- Expand vitamin A supplementation to children in hard-to-reach areas.
- Initiate and increase complementary zinc supplementation for treatment of childhood diarrhoea.
- Increase the production of adequately iodized salt and its use in households.
- Expand the use of Sprinkles – or multiple micronutrient powders – in the feeding of children aged 6 to 24 months to reduce anaemia.
- Increase the number of women of child-bearing age consuming fortified wheat flour to increase iron and folic acid consumption.
- Reach more women of child-bearing age with iron and folic acid tablets, and improve the rates of proper and consistent use of the supplements.
To ensure our most youngest and vulnerable children, between the ages of 6-59 months, can survive and thrive, we continue to ensure they receive two doses of life-saving vitamin A. We support the national strategy for delivering vitamin A supplements (VAS) to children 6-59 months of age via National Immunization Days (NIDs) for polio.
Nearly 30 million young children between the ages of 6 and 59 months are targeted twice-yearly for VAS during these campaigns.
NI Pakistan has also supported the Government of Pakistan in the implementation of an intensified monitoring strategy in 24 districts to improve coverage of vitamin A for this target group – and we provide technical support in these districts to assist in our collective efforts to reach the unreached children.
The government has committed to implement, resource and sustain the NI strategy in all 143 districts of Pakistan from 2015 onwards.
In consultation with the Government of Pakistan, we developed a strategy to implement a demonstration program to increase the coverage and utilization of zinc and oral rehydration salts in the management of childhood diarrhoea.
The strategy focuses on filling identified landscape analysis gaps for both public and private sectors. This includes technical and operational support in policy formulation, supply chain management, capacity building, program monitoring, and increase community awareness.
It will be operationalised in district Gujrat in Punjab province. This demonstration phase will be evaluated and findings will inform the formulation of a scale-up plan, which will be led by the government.
Multiple Micronutrient Powders
An NI Pakistan continues to focus on reducing anaemia in young children through the use of multiple micronutrient powders.
In collaboration with the government’s Lady Health Workers (LHWs) program, we targeted four districts to ensure families with young children between the ages of 6-24 months were provided MMNPs. This successful pilot project led to a reduction in anaemia rates among children involved.
Based on the results of the pilot project, a new project was conceived to reach children through a community-based organization in areas where LHWs are not present. NI Pakistan provided commodities, logistical support and technical expertise to help the National Rural Support Program (NRSP).
This new pilot project demonstrated the feasibility of distributing multiple micronutrient powders in two target districts, to reduce iron deficiency anaemia, within a context of infant and young child nutrition counseling.
The pilot project has been completed and its evaluation is in process, which will inform the future course of action.
NI Pakistan continues to be the lead technical agency in assisting the Ministry of Health Services, Regulations and Coordination in Universal Salt Iodization programming. We are supporting work in 110 districts to help reduce iodine deficiency and preventable brain damage.
By transferring expertise and providing equipment and supplies, NI Pakistan has helped revitalize Pakistan’s salt iodization program in recent years and continues supporting the national and provincial governments to control iodine deficiency disorders through edible salt iodization.
Today, around 60% of edible salt is adequately iodized. This success also includes:
- External quality control strengthened through establishment of 75 quality control laboratories and 18 reference laboratories in Public Health Sector.
- A successful and self sustained revolving fund is in function since 2013, which is supplying potassium iodate to salt processors at no cost no profit basis.
During the next two years, NI Pakistan plans to withdraw completely from the management and supply of potassium iodate to salt processors through provincial and district level advocacy.
We will facilitate for an open market procurement and supply mechanism to ensure uninterrupted availability for salt iodization in the country.
NI Pakistan continues to be a strong supporter of wheat flour fortification in Pakistan. To improve the iron status of the population, particularly of women of child-bearing age, we support wheat flour fortification with iron and folic acid.
Our efforts to prevent iron deficiency anaemia through wheat flour fortification with iron and folic acid include collaboration with the federal and provincial governments, the World Food Programme (WFP), and to scale up flour fortification in Pakistan.
We are currently focusing on fortification of wheat with iron and folic acid in the State of Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJ& K), which is enabling roller millers to fortify wheat flour.
The Government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir would be able to continue the fortification process even after the project period by passing on the fortification cost to the consumers.
A revolving fund for uninterrupted supply of premix to flour mills at no-profit/no-loss basis will also be established.
NI is providing assistance to procure premix and install microfeeders, train mill staff, ensure quality control, implement educational campaigns, and manage and monitor the project.
Through this project, we anticipate all wheat flour produced in the district of Azad Jammu and Kashmir will be fortified with iron and folic acid.