Education News

Is Pakistan raising a healthy population?


Roughly the only thing in economic models constructed for Pakistan plays a positive role– its young population. Over 60 percent of the population of the country is below 30 years of age. And nearly 35 percent below the age of 14.

The young population of a country largely tells that the economy has potential. That the youth will give a push to the wheel of economy with their ideas, ambitions and capacity to work more.

Some economists in Pakistan may celebrate this fact but the doctors, especially experienced pediatricians, may not agree with this. Because one in two people in Pakistan are being raised malnourished with iron deficiency. It is among the top deficiencies among children, 49.1 percent of those under 5 years of age, according to the National Nutrition Survey 2018 .

Malnutrition is one of the biggest threats to our population and national productivity.

Malnutrition is a condition when the diet of an individual does not contain the right amount of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, resulting in health problems. It can both be 1. under-nutrition, which is not getting enough nutrients,

and 2. Overnutrition, which is getting more nutrients than needed.

Out of the total children under five years of age, 22 percent are suffering from malnutrition, around the world. Statistics show that malnutrition accounts for at least half of all childhood deaths globally.

Unfortunately, Pakistan has one of the highest prevalence of child malnutrition as compared to even other developing countries. In Pakistan, malnutrition is same as undernutrition because overnutrition cases are negligible and easily addressable comparatively.

Poverty, poor maternal health and education are the main causes, but other factors like low birth weight, both inadequate and exclusive breastfeeding, parity, birth spacing, political context and lack of awareness may all contribute towards malnourishment in children.

Besides death, there is a long list of disastrous effects of malnutrition in children, preventing them from achieving success in school and pursuing purposeful work in adulthood. Such effects include delayed development, increased vulnerability to preventable diseases, stunted growth and micronutrient deficiencies of which Iodine, Vitamin A and Iron are the most common.

Take iron for instance. Iron is needed to form haemoglobin, which itself is a vital component of red blood cells. Deficiency of iron causes the most common type of anaemia, Iron Deficiency anaemia (IDA). IDA can either be due to diets low in iron, malabsorption of iron from the gut or due to blood loss. The common symptoms of IDA include abnormal paleness of skin, fatigue, irritability, sore or swollen tongue and if untreated can cause an enlarged spleen and increased heart rate.

The people before voting should see if the political party they would be voting for is sincere to solving their real issues such as malnutrition or not. Next time people vote, they should do it keeping in mind a healthier future and they should ask politicians they support to see and solve this menace of malnutrition the nation is facing

Chronic iron deficiency in early childhood results in poor cognitive function and lower scores in achievement tests in schools, suggesting that irreversible abnormalities may result from chronic iron deficiency at a critical period of growth and differentiation of the brain.

Iron deficiency has an effect on a number of things – from physical and mental health to productivity.  To address this, it is imperative that children be given good sources of iron like organ meat, dark green leafy vegetables etc. and products fortified with iron.

Think tanks in Pakistan should look for how other countries such as developed nations have tackled these major issues, which could affect the progress and development of a nation.

For instance, the research community in other parts of the world is working on enhancing the nutritional value of food and food ingredients. Massey University New Zealand has come up with a new and improved iron source (known as Iron+), which offers three times more absorption in the body against the existing best available source of iron.

With this breakthrough research, in Pakistan we can reinforce the prevention of iron deficiency and build a healthier generation for a better future. We can replicate the same for vitamin and iodine deficiency.

Our optimist economists see a big motivated young population with a zeal to work and ideas and talent that would eventually help the country lift itself economically, making Pakistan a strong nation.

But if they are doing this and ignoring the menace of malnutrition, then they are mistakenly forming incorrect future expectations from the youth. At least make them fit enough to take the challenges head on and then expect.

If this malnutrition continues to be ignored, the young population could not become an asset for a country, it would rather become a liability. Stunted growth, often falling ill and the lack of a creative mind would not bolster the country in any way.

For this, there is a dire need for awareness among people, political will and a helping hand from the private sector to bring easily available alternative food supplements in the country through food fortifications.

The people before voting should see if the political party they would be voting for is sincere to solving their real issues such as malnutrition or not. Next time people vote, they should do it keeping in mind a healthier future and they should ask politicians they support to see and solve this menace of malnutrition the nation is facing.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.