Food Minister opens UVAS’s international conference on human nutrition

Multi-sector approach stressed to address malnutrition and food safety issues in Pakistan

LAHORE  (19-3-14): Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan has called for adopting a multi-sector approach to address malnutrition and food safety issues.

The minister said this while addressing the inaugural session of a two-day International Conference and Expo on “Recent Developments in Human Nutrition” organized by the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) in collaboration with the Nutritionists Association of Pakistan (NAP) at a local hotel on Wednesday. University of Health Sciences Vice-Chancellor MAj Gen ® Prof Muhammad Aslam, GC University VC Prof Dr Khaliqur Rehman, European Union Ambassador Lars Gunner Wigemark, NAP President Dr Mussadiq Asif and others were also present.

Mr Bosan said that the government is making nutrition-sensitive interventions in health and various other sectors like food, agriculture water and sanitation to address malnutrition and its adverse effects. He said the Ministry of National Food Security and Research has forwarded a bill to the cabinet for approval to establish a Federal Food Safety, Animal and Plant Health Regulatory Authority. He said the 18th Amendment has empowered provinces to make policies and plans to address malnutrition and food safety issues.

Mr Bosan said that his ministry will ensure implementation of such recommendations of the conference which could help prevent hunger, address malnutrition and food security issues. He also accepted a suggestion put up during the conference to establish a Nutrition & Dietetic Council.  Later talking to media, Mr Bosan said that the government is committed and doing everything to minimize the damage caused by the Tharpoarkar drought. He said that there is no food security issue in the country as Pakistan has sufficient stocks of food. “But there can be involved other factors in Tharparkar drought issue. We are adopting an integrated and coordinated mechanism with provincial governments to safeguard health of masses ensuring that no such situation emerges again,” he added.

In his welcome address, Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Talat Naseer Pasha said that the main focus of the conference is to bring together researchers, scientists, scholars, experts and practitioners to get insight into recent scientific advancements in human nutrition, share experiences, problems and find out solutions. He said that malnutrition is not only effecting health but also the human development index and economy. “Addressing malnutrition is not a standalone subject and needs a multi-sector approach,” he added.

He also spoke about issues of under-nutrition, malnutrition and over-nutrition, which are causing many health problems and chronic diseases. He stressed the need for establishing a “Nutrition and Dietetic Council” to regulate and monitor the degree programs related to human nutrition and dietetics. He said that the UVAS on its part has taken various initiatives to address malnutrition and food safety issues and also launched various degree programmes in this discipline.

European Union Ambassador Lars Gunner Wigemark, NAP President Dr Mussadiq Asif, Conference Organising Secretary Dr Muhammad Nasir also spoke on the occasion.  “Innovate and collaborate to intervene malnutrition” is the core theme of the conference, for which total 350 abstracts were received. Of them 45 papers are being orally presented in nine technical sessions while 102 through posters. Conference Organizing Secretary Dr Muhammad Nasir said that 12 training workshops and eight cooking competitions have already been arranged in various educational institutions as part of the conference. First time in Pakistan, Dr Nasir said, the conference has used complete online and paperless methodology for abstract submission, review, acceptance, management, conference proceedings and registration, etc.

The conference will continue on Thursday in which researchers and experts will ponder over various issues of malnutrition and intervention to address them. Chairman Planning & Development Punjab Muhammad Irfan Elahi will chair the concluding session of the conference.

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