ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, in collaboration with United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and Department for International Development (DFID), is all set to carry out a major national nutrition survey after a delay of six years.
For the first time, water quality will also be assessed as part of the survey, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Around 280,000 children die every year in Pakistan due to malnourishment, but the government has paid no heed to the issue and has been relying on data collected in 2011.
However this year, the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination (NHSRC) will carry out a survey with technical support from Unicef and financial assistance worth $9 million from DFID.
NHSRC nutrition director Dr Baseer Achakzai, appointed for the federal national steering committee that will oversee the survey, said the survey is expected to kick off by the end of this year.
The results of the survey, however, will only be available towards the end of 2018, as the data has to be assessed by experts at Aga Khan Hospital’s central laboratory, he said.
“This will be the first-ever nutrition-related survey for women and children that will be carried out at the district level, as previously the target audience for the survey was provincial,” he informed The Express Tribune.
Teams will visit 130,000 households in 144 districts to collect blood samples from women and children, while also taking measurements of height, weight and age, he said.
“This will also be the first time that water samples will also be collected from these households, as unhygienic water is one of the leading causes of illness and malnutrition,” he added.
Achakzai said that technical committees have already been established at the provincial level so that they can oversee the survey process for their particular districts.