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Pakistan’s Council of Common Interests Sets Sights on Malnutrition

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Aamir Qureshi—AFP

In 43rd meeting of CCI, Rs. 350 billion earmarked to tackle stunted growth among children

Pakistan’s Council of Common Interests on Wednesday unanimously agreed to tackle malnutrition and stunted growth of children on war footing, earmarking Rs. 350 billion over the next five years to address the pressing issue.

Chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, and attended by the chief ministers of all four provinces, the 43rd meeting of the CCI decided to launch ‘Tackling Malnutrition Induced Stunting in Pakistan,’ saying Rs. 350 billion would be spent on it during fiscal years 2020-25. The meeting decided that the federal government would provide 50 percent of this sum, while the remainder would be equally distributed among the provincial governments.

According to a press release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, the project would target 30 percent of the country’s 220 million population, including 15 million women of reproductive age, and 3.9 million children under 2 who require nutrition interventions.

The CCI decided that the federal government would provide nutrition supplements, capacity building of new and existing healthcare workers, and research and monitoring. Meanwhile, the provinces would contribute toward implementation of the program with the aid of lady health and community health workers, targeting population identification, program management, institutional arrangement, evaluation of progress, and data sharing.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his inaugural speech upon assuming office, had pledged to reduce child stunting and improve maternal health, noting that this had severe repercussions for the country’s population and its economy.

Energy issues

The CCI also considered a request of the Khyber-Pakhtunkha government for a ‘one-time’ permission to substitute oil and gas exploration of one block with another prospective block. Granting the permission, the CCI stressed that commitments related to the previous block should be completed and the Petroleum Division should incorporate a time limit for the swap so future requests were not hampered.

Aiming to develop consensus on energy-related issues, the CCI decided to meet again in January 2021 to finalize issues related to the costs of electricity, gas and fuel, as well as to resolve issues related to water management. Prime Minister Khan emphasized that energy issues were of national importance, adding that consensus was necessary to ensure no province felt slighted and maximum benefit was ensured for the people of Pakistan.

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