The National Nutrition Survey 2011 released here has indicated that stunting, wasting and micronutrient malnutrition are endemic in Pakistan. The report said the increasing rate of chronic and acute malnutrition is primarily due to poverty, high illiteracy rates among mothers and food insecurity.
The survey was conducted by the Aga Khan University’s Division of women and child health, Pakistan’s Ministry of Health and UNICEF. The last such survey was conducted in 2001-2002, according to federal planning minister Ahsan Iqbal who said task forces must be formed to address the situation.
The survey found widespread micronutrient deficiencies among women especially in those pregnant — 51 per cent surveyed were anaemic; 46 per cent had vitamin A deficiency; 47.6 per cent had zinc deficiency; and 68.9 per cent had vitamin D deficiency. Anaemia was high at 50.4 per cent in other women too.
Among children under five, 43.7 per cent were stunted in 2011 as compared to 41.6 per cent in the 2001 National Nutrition Survey. Children under five also suffered from: anaemia-61.9 per cent; iron deficiency-43.8 per cent; vitamin-A deficiency- 54 per cent; and zinc deficiency 39.2 per cent. In the Saarc, Pakistan has the second highest stunting rate for children under five years- 43.7 per cent. About 32 per cent of the children were underweight. The elderly population too was not spared with over 53.9 per cent not having normal weight.