Islamabad, 4 April 2023 (TDI): Pakistan and Italy have agreed to spend 500 million Pakistani rupees on improving the general health of children and pregnant and lactating women in flood-affected districts of Balochistan.

The accord was inked as part of the Benazir Nahsonuma Project of the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) under the Pakistan-Italy Debt Swap Agreement (PIDSA).

The program aims to provide specialized nutritious food to 16,000 children under the age of two and frequent health checks for mothers and children.

Additionally, it seeks to facilitate immunization easier in the Balochistan districts of Khuzdar, Lasbella, and Jhal Magsi.

The Nahsonuma Program’s primary objective is to avoid stunting in children under 2. Additionally, it aims to lessen anemia and micronutrient shortages and enhance pregnancy weight gain.

It also seeks to raise maternal and early childhood health and nutrition awareness, as well as to minimize disease burden and avoid low birth weight.

The initiative spans 156 districts in Pakistan under the World Food Program and the Benazir Income Support Program.

Islam Zaib, Co-Director of PIDSA Pakistan, Pietro Del Sette, Co-Director of PIDSA Italy, and Naveed Akhtar, Director of General Benazir Income Support Program, signed the agreement.

Roberto Neccia, Charge d’Affaires of the Italian Embassy, and Dr. Kazim Niaz, Secretary Economic Affairs Division, attended the occasion.

Francesco Zatta, the recently appointed Italian Agency for Development Cooperation Director, was also present.

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In addition to the arrangement with Italy, Pakistan has received a 50 million Euro loan from the ECO Trade and Development Bank (TDB).

It also obtained a 20 million Euro grant for the same purpose from the German state-owned investment and development bank, KfW.

The French Development Agency (AFD) also offers funding of 45 million Euros to address nutrition-related concerns in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Newly Merged District (NMD) and four Southern districts.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs is negotiating with other donor organizations to obtain more funding to address nutrition-related issues and improve the general health of children and pregnant & lactating women in Pakistan’s disaster-affected areas.

This program will substantially impact the health and well-being of the people of Balochistan. It is heartening to see that Pakistan’s government is trying to better the lives of its inhabitants.

Pakistan and Italy’s alliance is an excellent example of how working together can bring progressive development. These associations are anticipated to support Pakistan as the country faces these challenges.