BARA: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday visited Dogra Hospital in Bara sub-division of Khyber tribal district and formally launched Ehsaas Nashonuma Programme to provide nutritious food and stipend to deserving families to check stunting in the country.

PM’s Special Assistant on Poverty Alleviation Sania Nishtar briefed Imran Khan about the programme. KP Governor Shah Farman, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri, other elected representatives and Deputy Commissioner Mehmood Aslam Wazir were also present on the occasion.

Ehsaas Nashonuma is the first anti-stunting program in the country’s history. The budget for the programme for this year is Rs8.52 billion.

Under this programme, deserving families will be provided nutritious food along with quarterly stipend, which will be Rs2,000 for girls and Rs1,500 for boys. The program has been started to protect pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and children under the age of two years from malnutrition.

The prime minister was told that four centres have been set up in Rajanpur, six in Upper Dir and three in Khyber while six were being established in Badin, three each in Kharan and Bagh and eight in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Pakistan stood at second in the region for stunting as 40 percent of the children faced stunted growth owing to malnutrition or other reasons which adversely impact their natural height and mental capability.

Dr Sania Nishtar said 33 Nashonuma centres have been established in nine districts including Khyber, Upper Dir, Bagh, Ghizer, Hunza, Kharmang, Kharan, Badin and Rajanpur in the first phase and these districts have been selected on the basis of prevalence of stunting problem.

An application has also been designed to maintain the health record of the beneficiaries and special registration desks have also been set up for beneficiary women at the centres. The desks would maintain data of pregnant and lactating mothers and the height, weight and health condition of their under-two year babies. The beneficiary women would be bound to attend the awareness sessions to be held in the regional languages for what special literature including charts, posters and educational videos have been designed. Special ATM machines were being set up at all Nashonuma Centres to dispense the amount of stipend through biometrics.

During the visit, the prime minister also inaugurated the polio vaccination campaign by administering vaccine drops to a child. The prime minister also planted a sapling on this occasion.