The Planning Commission of Pakistan and Nestlé Pakistan have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the purpose of improving health of the children in Pakistan. The MoU was signed by Mr Yousaf Naseem Khokhar, Secretary of the Planning Commission, on the government’s behalf and Mr Waqar Ahmad, Head of Corporate Affairs, Nestlé Pakistan. Present on the occasion were Professor Ahsan Iqbal, Minister PD&R and Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Nadeem Javaid, Chief Economist, Dr. Mubarik Ali, Member Food Security and climate Change, and other key Members and Chief of Technical Sections of the Planning Commission. On the Nestlé side, Mr. Bruno Olierhoek Managing Director, Ms. Samra Maqbool, Head of Marketing, and other high officials participated in the ceremony.
The Planning Commission of Pakistan recognizes the malnutrition situation in the country especially among children and women in Vision 2025 and fixes physical targets and devises strategies to eradicate malnutrition, promote zero hunger, and ensure food security in the country. One of the strategies is to work with the private sector to promote micronutrient rich and fortified foods and improve awareness among stakeholders on clean, healthy and nutritious foods. For this purpose, business community, civil society, and academicians are being engaged to enhance understanding and overcome the malnutrition driven health crises in the country.
On the other hand, Nestlé has started the ‘United for Healthier Kids’ global campaign, that works towards improving the overall wellness of children by encouraging the adoption of healthier practices, such as eating nutritious meals, awareness about nutritious, healthy, and hygienic foods, as well as regular and clean water intake and physical exercises. The campaign works by building strong local partnerships with diverse stakeholders, and educating the public about the importance of a healthy childhood. The aim of the movement in Pakistan is to positively impact the lifestyle behaviors of 50,000 Pakistani children between the ages of 3-12.
The MoU will enable the Government of Pakistan and Nestlé to share expertise and resources, and develop a strong working relationship to eradicate the challenges that Pakistani children currently face, including malnutrition and stunted growth. In particular, the collaboration will address the issues of water and food security mentioned in pillar 4 of the Pakistan Vision 2025 document, launched by the Planning Commission in 2014 which is also aligned with the U4HK movement worldwide. The Planning Commission and Nestlé also encourage similar collaboration with other national or international private sector companies including education, media and donors.
On the occasion, Professor Ahsan Iqbal said, "We highly recognize the implication of stunting in the present generation children on retarding the future economic growth in the country. Therefore, our priorities have always been to make concentrative efforts for the healthier children to create prosperous Pakistan. We have always appreciated the efforts made by the private sector in this regard. We thank Nestlé for bringing this campaign to Pakistan; this will be a remarkable step towards improving the health of Pakistani children. I hope that such expanded collaboration with the private sector in the future will bring significant improvements in the life of poor children and women in the country".
Mr Olierhoek, Managing Director of Nestlé, reiterated on the occasion that "United for Healthier Kids is a global movement working towards the betterment of children’s health. The movement has reached multiple countries and the secret of its success lies in our local partners. They play a significant role in making it successful since they can provide valuable insight on the conditions of the country. We are glad that the Government of Pakistan has come on board to help us with the initiative and we look forward to work with them".
Notes for the Editor:
United for Healthier Kids (U4HK) is an initiative which was started globally to eradicate the factors leading to poor health of children. Under this initiative, the movement will work closely with all the major stakeholders to determine the obstacles that stand in the way as well as the solutions for a healthier childhood.
U4HK started its journey with New Mexico which is facing a high prevalence of overweight and obesity, with the Ministry of Health endorsing the campaign and the help of a local broadcasting company the movement started receiving positive results. Philippines became the second stop for U4HK which has a very high prevalence of stunting. U4HK partnered with Public as well private sectors including the National Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) and Central Bank of Philippines to spread the message across the country. UAE became the third country to have U4HK campaign, with the help of MBC Al Amal Group and Arabian Radio Network.
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