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2008 Floods in Pakistan



Strategic plan tackles malnutrition in flood-affected areas of Sindh, Pakistan

© UNICEF Pakistan/2011/Shuja
UNICEF Nutrition Specialist Amir Hossin Yarparvar presents the key components of the Sindh Strategic Nutrition Response Plan at its launch in Karachi, Pakistan.

By Zohra Nisar Ahmed Hunzai

KARACHI, Pakistan, 3 February 2011 – Following a survey that revealed alarming rates of malnutrition among children in flood-affected areas of Pakistan, the government of Sindh Province has designed a response to tackle the problem. The Sindh Strategic Nutrition Response Plan (SSNRP), launched last week in Karachi, aims to reduce child and maternal mortality and address malnutrition among children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.

The plan addresses the results of the Flood Affected Nutrition Survey conducted by the Sindh Health Department – in collaboration with UNICEF, Action Contre la Faim Canada and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – in October and November of last year.

The survey indicated that millions of children were at risk and that the scale of the problem was widening due to extreme poverty, poor diet and health, exposure to disease, and inadequate sanitation and hygiene.

Accelerated response

The SSNRP calls for 12 months of accelerated response in its first phase, followed by a six-month bridging period to the upcoming PC1, which will consider community-based management of acute malnutrition and other strategies in a longer-term development programme for Sindh Province.

The plan will be implemented in 16 flood-affected and 3 food-insecure districts, based on criteria defined by the National Disaster Management Authority. The estimated budget for implementation of SSNR is $43 million.

UNICEF and other partners, including UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, are working with the authorities in Sindh to carry out the plan. UNICEF leads the inter-agency nutrition cluster and provides supplies, technical guidance and training to address malnutrition among children and women in the province.

According to UNICEF Acting Representative in Pakistan Pascal Villeneuve, a strategic plan “with all the right elements will provide an effective response, both in the short term and in the medium term.”

Stabilization centres

Since last September, around 50,000 acute and moderately malnourished children have been treated, and selective feeding programmes are functional in more than 200 villages across Sindh. In addition, 'Lady Health Workers' and community resource people have been trained to identify, refer and treat malnourished children and women.

“It is an astonishing experience that I can contribute in saving lives of young children,” said Ms. Ghazala, a woman who works with the nutrition team in Thatta District. “I’m a trained community worker and refer malnourished children and women to a stabilization centre.”

UNICEF and its partners have set up outpatient therapeutic stabilization centres in local hospitals. “It is depressing sometimes when you see a young child who is severely malnourished, but it is rewarding, too, when you see that child improving,” said Dr. Ajeet, a physician who works with the non-governmental organization HOPE at a stabilization centre in Thatta. 

Ready-to-use therapeutic food

The centres provide a complete physical examination and nutrition assessment of patients referred by health workers. The patients are then registered and provided with medicines and high-density, ready-to-use therapeutic food, along with health and nutrition counselling. Patients with severe malnutrition and complications are admitted for treatment.

“This baby is three years old, but she looks like a newborn baby,” said Nasim, a mother whose child received nutrition-assessment services in Dadu District. “A health worker from my village helped me to get here. She first screened my child and told me that she is sick and malnourished.”

© UNICEF Pakistan/2011/Shuja
Sindh Province Minister of Health Dr. Sagheer Ahmed talks to local media about the nutrition response plan.



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