WFP completes health system resilience project in Sindh

Pakistan first Asian country to pilot scheme in Umerkot, says WFP communication officer

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The United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP) has completed the Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) Surge project in Pakistan, making the country the first Asian state to pilot the scheme.

The project was completed in Sindh’s Umerkot district, with support from the European Union (EU), stated WFP Pakistan on Wednesday.

The pilot project was initiated in 2017, in collaboration with the Sindh Department of Health and Concern Worldwide, a WFP implementing partner. The project aimed to increase the national/sub-national health systems’ resilience to sudden health emergencies and strengthen the capacity of government health systems to better predict, plan for and respond to periodic surges in caseloads of acute malnutrition.

WFP Pakistan Country Director Chris Kaye said malnutrition and stunting significantly impacted the health and future of children across Pakistan.

“We are working with government partners and with support from donors like the EU, we can better understand how, where, and when cases may rise and ensure we can stop malnutrition in its tracks,” said Kaye.

Sindh is severely affected by high rates of acute malnutrition and stunting among children and pregnant and lactating women (PLW). Over 23 percent of the children in the province have been suffering from acute malnutrition, while 48 percent of those under the age of five are stunted. Malnutrition and stunting not only affect children’s health, making them more susceptible to disease and infection and impairing their mental and physical development, but also reduce their lifelong productivity.

“The ECHO-funded CMAM surge project was piloted in 30 centres in 27 union councils of the district Umerkot. Under the project, WFP conducted the Standardized Monitoring & Assessment for Relief and Transition survey (SMART) to measure the extent of acute malnutrition in children aged 6-59 months and PLWs in the district.

WFP also conducted a Semi-Quantitative Evaluation of Access and Coverage (SQUEAC) to understand the barriers and boosters to increased access to care and treatment for wasted children. Capacity building trainings on CMAM Surge approach were provided to the provincial government healthcare workers and other stakeholders,” stated WFP Pakistan.

It added that the pilot project had strengthened government health systems for responding to increased caseloads of acute malnutrition and for better nutrition surveillance. It also generated evidence of the feasibility as well as lessons and positive practices that would guide the expansion of the CMAM Surge approach in other parts of Pakistan.