Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Sania Nishtar on Sunday disclosed that six Nashonuma Centres are being opened in Kalat and Zhob districts of Balochistan in the first phase of Ehsaas Nashonuma programme under the umbrella initiative of Ehsaas.
The flagship initiative of the government was aimed to tackle stunting and improve the nutrition of the poorest children through a combination of cash stipends, nutritional food, medical examination and training”, Dr. Nishtar who heads Ehsaas programme said.
National Nutrition Survey 2018 found that 46.6 percent of children in Balochistan are currently impacted by stunting due to malnutrition, with significant consequences for their health and educational outcomes.
Ehsaas has rolled out Ehsaas Nashonuma programme to ensure that this form of malnutrition does not continue to compromise the human capital required to sustain the socioeconomic development.
Across Pakistan, 48 Ehsaas Nashonuma Centres in 13 districts are being opened at the district and Tehsil level health facilities in the first phase of the programme.
However, catering to the scattered population and wide geographical spread out of Balochistan, the Ehsaas Nashonuma Centres are being opened at the basic health unit level to ensure easy access to the facility.
Ehsaas Nashonuma centers in Balochistan are opening in collaboration with provincial government and the World Food Programme. To provide all Ehsaas Nashonuma facilities under one roof, four centres have been established in Kalat at DHQ Kalat, DHQ Surab, BHU Iskalkoo and BHU Lakorian. In Zhob district, two centres will be operational next month.
The programme will be expanded to other districts in the next phase.
Ehsaas Nashonuma is a three-year programme that is fully funded by the government of Pakistan.
The programme is pegged on improving nutrition and health in the first thousand days of life, that is the most critical period in early childhood development, starting at conception and finishing at age of two.
Every quarter, conditional cash-transfers are being provided to the poorest pregnant and lactating women and those with children under two years old; Rs.1500 for a boy child and mother, and Rs. 2000 for a girl child.
As stated by Ehsaas policy, beneficiaries will be identified through the Ehsaas ecosystem and programme enrolments will be made through an android based Ehsaas Nashonuma application.
The android application not just enables the electronic registrations but also tracks beneficiary women and children. Nashonuma stipends are disbursed to mothers through biometrically enabled Ehsaas payment system. Payments are conditional upon the consumption of specialized nutritious food, immunizations, and attendance in health awareness sessions.