‘NourishMaa’ Launched to Improve Maternal Nutrition in Pakistan

Nutrition International

Nutrition International, in partnership with the Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination (MoNHSR&C) and provincial health departments, has launched a new campaign in Pakistan aimed at improving maternal nutrition in the country.

The campaign, called NourishMaa, will focus on building the capacities of healthcare providers (HCPs) and frontline health workers (FHWs) in six selected districts that report poor maternal nutrition indicators. The goal is to raise awareness about the importance of maternal nutrition and to improve the knowledge and motivation of key stakeholders, including HCPs, FHWs, and key opinion leaders (KOLs), to advance maternal nutrition interventions in Pakistan.

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According to the National Nutrition Survey 2018, 42% of Pakistani women of reproductive age (WRA, 15-49 years) bear the triple burden of malnutrition, with half of all pregnant women being anaemic, and 38% of them being overweight and obese. Additionally, one in every two (54%) adolescent girls (10-19 years) is anaemic in the country. High rates of malnutrition among WRA and adolescent girls, coupled with underlying complications arising from early marriages, closely spaced pregnancies and maternal malnutrition exacerbate a vicious cycle of high morbidity and mortality, leading to adverse maternal and child health outcomes.

The NourishMaa campaign, developed to support the Pakistan Maternal Nutrition Strategy 2022-27, aims to help address these issues by leveraging the critical role of HCPs and FLWs. The key objective of the campaign is to improve the capacities of health workers in public and private sectors, key opinion leaders, and other stakeholders to advance maternal nutrition interventions in Pakistan.

During the launch of the campaign, Dr. Muhammad Fakhre Alam, Secretary, MoNHSR&C, said that improving the knowledge and capacity of healthcare providers to address maternal nutrition issues and promote a collective responsibility approach is the need of the hour. He endorsed the NourishMaa campaign and committed to its effective implementation, referencing the Pakistan National Maternal Nutrition Strategy 2022-27, which calls for increasing awareness about maternal nutrition among individuals, families, communities, healthcare providers, policymakers, and the public at large.

The campaign is being implemented in two districts of Punjab and four districts of Sindh by Nutrition International in collaboration with the MoNHSR&C, the provincial departments of Health, the Professional Medical Association, and the Society of Obstetrics and Gynecologist Pakistan.

Dr. Shabina Raza, Nutrition International Pakistan Country Director, emphasized the critical need for investing in maternal nutrition during the launch event. She said, “Addressing maternal malnutrition is one of Nutrition International’s top priorities, with a focus on providing nutrition counseling, micronutrient supplementation, and quality care for a positive pregnancy and safe birth.”

The campaign will run for two years and seeks to influence HCPs/FHWs and KOLs and improve their knowledge, capacity, and motivation through interpersonal communication and targeted media outreach, including social media campaigns, talk shows, campaign ambassadors, seminars, meetings, and conferences at the provincial and district levels, to effectively engage them on maternal nutrition at the national level and in targeted regions, resulting in improved maternal nutrition indicators in the country.

Dr. Baseer Achakzai, Director-General (Health), MoNHSR&C, said that the campaign is unique in the sense that it contributes to developing an enabling environment for maternal nutrition and directly works with health service providers, increasing their knowledge and motivation towards addressing maternal malnutrition.

The event was attended by several key officials from government, development partners, and professional associations. The NourishMaa campaign has the potential to scale up

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