Nutrition International, Federal, and Punjab Governments Launch NourishMaa Campaign

Nutrition International, Federal, and Punjab Governments Launch NourishMaa Campaign to Improve Maternal Nutrition in the Province.

Lahore (Muhammad Yasir) Over 5,000 healthcare providers and frontline health workers will be reached through the campaign to enrich their knowledge of, and capacities around, maternal nutrition and integrating nutrition counseling into their day-to-day practices.

LAHORE, June 02, 2023: Nutrition International joined hands with the Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination (MoNHSR&C) and Punjab Health Department to launch a campaign – NourishMaa. This collaborative effort aims to promote maternal nutrition in the province by enhancing the knowledge and skills of healthcare providers (HCPs) and frontline health workers (FHWs) in two selected districts of Punjab.

“Maternal malnutrition’s impact extends across generations, making it crucial for Pakistan to urgently address this issue,” emphasized Ali Jan Khan, Secretary of the Primary and Secondary Health Department (P&SHD) in the Government of Punjab. Dr. Ali praised the NourishMaa Campaign for its collaborative efforts, forming valuable partnerships with the Department of Health and professional medical associations to reach public and private healthcare providers. The campaign’s innovative use of mainstream and social media holds promise in achieving significant improvements in maternal nutrition across the country.

The latest National Nutrition Survey 2018 (NNS-2018) indicates that the macronutrient and micronutrient deficiencies are alarming amongst women of reproductive age (WRA, 15-49 years). 14.4% are underweight, 24% are overweight and 13.8% are obese. There is a very high prevalence of anemia (42%) in this age group. Similarly, the nutritional status of adolescent girls (10-19 years) is also worrisome. The NNS-2018 highlighted that one in eight adolescent girls in Pakistan were underweight, while more than 55% suffered from anemia. The high rate of malnutrition among WRA as well as adolescent girls, combined with underlying complications emerging from early marriages, closely spaced pregnancies, and maternal malnutrition aggravate a vicious cycle of high morbidity and mortality, leading to adverse maternal and child health outcomes. The NourishMaa campaign initiated to complement the Pakistan Maternal Nutrition Strategy 2022-27, aims to help address these issues by leveraging the critical role of HCPs and FHWs.

The NourishMaa Campaign aims to increase awareness about the importance of maternal nutrition and enhance the capacities of public and private sector health workers, key opinion leaders (KOLs), and other stakeholders to advance maternal nutrition interventions in Pakistan. Nutrition International is implementing this campaign with the close collaboration and support of MoNHSR&C, the provincial health departments, the Professional Medical Association, and the Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecologist in six districts of Pakistan including two in Punjab; Rawalpindi, and Bahawalpur while four districts are targeted in Sindh. The campaign targets to achieve some specific outcomes including improved knowledge among HCPs and FHWs on maternal nutrition, effective engagement of key HCPs on maternal nutrition, and improved knowledge and motivation among KOLs for accelerating action towards enhancing maternal nutrition at the national and provincial levels.

Speaking at the occasion, Asim Shahzad Qureshi, National Program Manager, Maternal Newborn Health and Nutrition, Nutrition International stressed the crucial role of HCPs and FHWs in improving maternal nutrition, especially through improved nutrition counseling. “Over the past 20 years, Nutrition International has successfully worked in partnership with the Government of Pakistan on various programs to improve the health and nutrition status of the country’s women, adolescent girls, and children”, he added. The NourishMaa Campaign reflects our global commitment to improving the health and nutrition of people in need, especially women and children. Though the NourishMaa campaign targeting a few districts of Pakistan, it has the potential to scale up nationwide and help break the cycle of malnutrition by improving the maternal and child health outcomes in the country.”

Representing the MoNHSR&C, Dr. Khawaja Masuood Ahmed, National Coordinator Nutrition and National Fortification Alliance said that. 

Dr. Muhammad Ilyas, Director of General Health, Punjab, revealed that out of approximately 250,000 medical professionals and 150,000 outreach workers in the country, the majority have not received formal training on maternal nutrition. Recognizing the significance of the campaign, Dr. Ilyas emphasized that the NourishMaa initiative’s focus on developing models and channels to enhance healthcare providers’ knowledge and capacities will undoubtedly contribute to improving maternal nutrition indicators nationwide. .

An anthem for the NourishMaa campaign was featured at the launch event to promote and spread awareness of the campaign among stakeholders. The two-year campaign will use multiple approachses and channels for enhancing the knowledge, capacity, and motivation of HCPs, FHWs and KOLs including interpersonal communication and targeted media outreach; social media campaigns, talk shows, campaign ambassadors, seminars, trainings, meetings, and conferences at the provincial and district levels.

The NourishMaa campaign launch witnessed the presence of over 100 attendees, including esteemed individuals such as Dr. Muhammad Khalil Ahmed, Program Director IRMNCH&NP, Health Department Punjab, Ms. Uzma Hafeez Chief Health, P&DD, Punjab, Prof. Dr. Ashraf Nizami, President, PMA Lahore, Council Member & World Medical Association (WMA), Prof. Dr. Arshad Chohan, Vice President, SOGP, and Dr. Farhana Shahid, Country advisor for Nutrition, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.