Sir: Pakistan has a sorry record in terms of spending in the nutrition sector. As it is, Pakistan’s budgetary allocations for the health and education sectors are minimal. Reportedly, the previous government earmarked Rs54 billion for the health ministry in the budget for fiscal year 2017-18. This was supposed to be an increase of 80 percent from the Rs30 billion allocated for the health ministry in the previous year. The health budget covers many areas such as new and old development projects, polio immunization, control of malaria, population planning, upkeep of hospitals, etc.
However, there is nothing mentioned about nutrition in these budgets and, despite the prime importance of good nutrition in the growth of the population, nutrition has never been mentioned by any politician as an issue that needs immediate attention.
The new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan also seems to be oblivious to the issue though he did mention both in his pre-election speeches and after the elections, that poor nutrition of children leads to their stunted growth and this needs to be corrected. It is important for the present government to enhance its spending on nutrition on an emergency basis as malnutrition for both children and women is nothing but a big stumbling block on the road to Pakistan’s national growth.