Honourable Speaker National Assembly, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq Presides National Parliamentary Meet on Malnutrition.

(Day one – 17th Feb., 2016: Islamabad): Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq inaugurated a two-day National Parliamentarians meet on Malnutrition, organized by the Parliamentary Task Force on SDGs, at the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS). The Conference is being attended by more than 200 delegates including Members of National Assembly, Senate, Speakers of the provincial land legislative assembles, all Education and Health Ministers of the country, representatives of provincial departments of Planning and development, leading health practitioners, members of the civil society, media and representatives of the international development community as well as experts on Malnutrition, Mother and child health have also been invited.

MNA and Convener of Parliamentary Taskforce MNA Marriyum Aurangzeb presented the welcome remarks in the inauguration ceremony. She was of the opinion that the National Parliamentary Meet is an unprecedented first conference initiated by Members of the Parliament on the sensitive subject, which has been affecting lives and prosperity of millions of children and women across Pakistan,” While elaborating the agenda of the Conference, she informed that this meet is organized to bring all federal and provincial legislators on board to agree on a consensus agenda to address the reasons and determinants of malnutrition in Pakistan. Federal Minister of State Saira Afzal Tarar, speaking on the occasion said that Pakistani women and children suffer from some of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world with a national nutritional stunting prevalence among children under five of 43.7%. Pakistan also has the second highest number of severely wasted children. She said that each year, more than 45% children are born with serious problems of stunting due to malnutrition and globally, Malnutrition is directly responsible for three lac deaths per year in children younger than five years in developing countries and contributes indirectly to more than half of all deaths in children worldwide.

Speaker Balochistan Assembly Rahila Hameed Khan Durrani congratulated Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq on the landmark establishment of Parliamentary Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the National Assembly and she said Members of Provincial Assembly of Balochistan will keep no stone unturned in implementation of SDGs to improve nutrition and food security in the Province. Deputy Speaker Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Ms Mehr Taj Rohani and Speaker Gilgit Baltistan Assembly Haji Fida Muhammad Naushad also congratulated MNA Marriyum Aurangzeb for holding national parliamentary meet on malnutrition that is challenge for areas of Sindh, south Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Former MNA Shehnaz Wazir Ali, Melanie Galvin (Chief Nutrition UNICEF), Shakeel Ahmed UNDP, Asad Hafeez, DG health NHSRC, Mehnaz Aziz, President Perwan, Shabana Haider, Member P and D Board, Punjab and SDPI chief Abid Sulehri spoke on situational analysis of malnutrition in provinces, enabling extreme poverty and improving quality of life and overview of Sustainable Development Goals.

Later, in the evening parliamentarians joined the Speaker ardar Ayaz Sadiq for the inauguration ceremony of the SDGs Secretariat at the National Assembly, which has been established to provide technical assistance to the parliamentarians to effectively oversee, address the legislative gaps and ensure the rights of their respective constituents. The Secretariat has been established with the cooperation of the UNDP Pakistan with zero-burden on the national exchequer while the National Parliamentary Meet on Malnutrition is being organized by the National Assembly in assistance from Pakistan Institution for Parliamentary Services. The Parliament of Pakistan created another benchmark with the inauguration of a first of its kind state-of-the art Secretariat on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in any parliament of the world. Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, the Speaker of the National Assembly inaugurated the Secretariat in an impressive ceremony at the Parliament House attended by MPs, Development experts, resident directors of reputed International Organisations and over 25 ambassadors and members of diplomatic corps.

(Day Two – 18th Feb., 2016: Islamabad):  Honorable Speaker National Assembly, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, graced the closing ceremony of the National Parliamentary Meet on Malnutrition at PIPS (18th February, 2016: Islamabad): With the hope that “This opportunity must lead all of us to collaborate our efforts and collectively devise a roadmap for upcoming years to confront the development challenges specially child and maternal malnutrition” Honorable Speaker National Assembly, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, concluded the two-day’ National Parliamentary Meet on Malnutrition at PIPS on 18th Feb., 2016. Organized by Parliamentary Task-Force on SDGs, and PIPS with support from UNDP, the ceremony was attended by nearly 100 delegates including members of national as well as provincial and legislative chambers of parliament of Pakistan, area experts and representatives of media and international development community.

 The closing session was preceded by four extensive Break Out Sessions, focusing on SDGs 1,2,3 and 5. Convener SDGs Task Force Punjab, Ms. zma Zahid Bukhari, led the session one which targeted Goal 1: “End poverty in all its forms everywhere” and was facilitated by Dr. Wisal M. Khan, Nutrition Specialist UNICEF. The panelists included Ms. Mehnaz Aziz, President Parwan, Dr. Zeba Sattar, Country Director Population Council, and Dr. Zafar ul Hassan, Chief Poverty Alleviation P&D Division.

Session two focusing on Goal 2: “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” was chaired by Convener SDGs Task Force Sindh, Ms. Mehtab Akbar Rashdi. The session was facilitated by Dr. Nomeena Anis, Nutritionist FOA, and the speakers included Dr. Baseer Khan Achakzai, Director Nutrition MoH, Mr. Patrick Evans, FOA Pakistan Representative, and Ms. Melanie Galvin, Chief of Nutrition UNICEF.

Goal 3: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” was the theme of session three which was chaired by Mr. Arif Yousaf, Convener SDGs Task Force Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and facilitated by Dr. Masood Abbasi from WFP. The distinguished panelists of the session were Dr. Ayoub Aljaweldeh, Regional Director WHO, Dr. Batool Mazhar, Head of Department MCH Center PIMS, and Honorable MPA Punjab Assembly, Ms. Saira Iftikhar.

Ms. Shaista Pervez Malik, General Secretary Women Parliamentary Caucus chaired the deliberations of session 4 which catered for Goal 5: “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” Ms. Nazia Seher from JICA facilitated the session whose speakers included Ms. Rabea Hadi from Aurat Foundation and Ms. Natasha Sajjad from NCSW. While Deputy Director Legislation PIPS Mr. Kashif Mehmood Tariq gave presentation on the legislative gaps.

The deliberations and recommendations of all the sessions were collectively summarized during the closing ceremony. Parliamentarians jointly demanded the integration of SDGs units with respective P&D Departments, and in the course of the discussion the most urgent priority issues which emerged included: population planning, declaration of malnutrition as an emergency in Pakistan, multispectral and integrated approach to malnutrition, parliamentary engagement at all levels, compilation of the existing legislation on nutrition in all the Legislative Assemblies, increased budget allocation to Mother & Child Health and Nutrition, awareness and education integration of malnutrition, up-gradation of Primary Health Care centers, revisiting the Cash Flow Grants Schemes of the BISP Programme to address malnutrition in chronic poverty areas, and increased parliamentary oversight on malnutrition.

Furthermore, all the participants agreed on three recommendations to be taken up for a serious follow-up. These included: (1) malnutrition must be declared as National Emergency, (2) an autonomous and empowered National Commission on Malnutrition, Mother & Child be established, comprising all stakeholders of all regions of Pakistan, and (3) media should be directed to implement the concerned PEMRA rules of dedicating at least 10% of the prime airtime as public service awareness messages on this critical subject of malnutrition. The Meet ended with the resolve to keep a sustained follow-up of this pertinent issue. The next step would be a full cycle of malnutrition meets in provincial as well as legislative assemblies of Pakistan. Ms. Azma Zahid Bukhari, Convener of the Parliamentary Task Force Punjab Assembly, invited to schedule the Meet in next two months in Lahore. Ms Marriyum Aurangzeb, MNA and National Convener thanked MPs across all parties and from National Parliament as well as four provincial assemblies and legislative assemblies for their robust deliberations. She also acknowledged the hardwork and committed zeal of PIPS team for comprehensively organizing the National Parliamentary Meet from envisioning its concept agenda setting to actual implementation of milestone meet that saw participation of over 150 delegates attending the two days deliberations in various thematic and plenary sessions.

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