Punjab Province Report: Nutrition Political Economy, Pakistan

In the Punjab Province of Pakistan, under-nutrition remains a recognized health problem and plays a substantial role in the region’s elevated maternal and child morbidity and mortality rates. Although Punjab as a whole has marginally less under-nutrition than other provinces, there are large disparities within the province. In this report a nutrition governance framework was applied to research and analyse the provincial experience with nutrition policy in Pakistan, looking both at chronic and acute malnutrition. Twenty-one in-depth interviews with key stakeholders were also conducted along with a review of published and grey literature. Findings were validated and supplemented by consultative provincial roundtable meetings. Punjab’s nutritional puzzle is that it has high levels of chronic malnutrition and micro-nutrient deficiencies despite a surplus production of food and a low poverty level. Under-nutrition is mainly linked to insufficient attention to preventive health strategies and to a lack of connection between relevant sectors such as Education, Health, Poverty, Safe Water and Sanitation, and Food. Strategic opportunities are recommended which include cross-party political support and ownership for nutrition, with steering by executive leadership; multi-sectoral action and functional integration of various departments and programmes with the creation of a central convening structure for effective cross-sectoral coordination; broadening of nutritional activities beyond salt iodization and vitamin A coverage; central co-ordination of monitoring and evaluation and effective partnerships between the state and non-state sector around data production, awareness, advocacy, and monitoring.