The Economist Intelligence Unit on the state of clinical nutrition in Pakistan has highlighted challenges faced by the healthcare system.

The Economist Intelligence Unit on the state of clinical nutrition in Pakistan, launched Wednesday, has highlighted the challenges that the healthcare system has been facing in adapting appropriate nutrition programmes and outlined the opportunities that lie ahead.

The report brings forward the main causes of the currently bleak situation, which consist of food insecurity, a dearth of nutritionists and dieticians and an insufficient awareness among people around the importance of nutrition, both in hospitals and at homes. As per Lieutenant Commander Rabia Anwer, vice president of the Pakistan Nutrition and Dietetic Society (PNDS), there’s a lack of trained nutritionists and dieticians in Pakistan. “Most patients are not screened for malnutrition upon admission to hospital. As a result, many commence their stay facing a hurdle, and more than two thirds of those with malnutrition decline further during their stay. If afflicted patients were identified early on and provided with a suitable diet by a trained dietician, then complications, length of stay, readmission rates, mortality and cost of care would all be reduced”.

“Nutrition is at the base of good health,” said Prof Javed Akram, vice chancellor, University of Health Sciences, Lahore, and founding president of the Pakistan Society of Internal Medicine. “Getting the important nutrients through an adequate nutrition is instrumental for people to grow and stay healthy at all stages of life. Among solutions that can remedy malnutrition and improve outcomes, are medically tailored meals, meal replacements and nutritional supplements”. The report argues that a lack of nutritional knowledge among clinical staff in Pakistan is a persistent issue, and that giving the right food to patients, is the simplest, safest, and cheapest way to provide nutritional care.

Asim Shafiq, general manager of Abbott’s nutrition business in Pakistan and Iraq, said that, in line with its strategy to reinforce the role of nutrition in fostering a healthy living, the pharmaceutical company supported Economist Intelligence Unit’s report on the state of clinical nutrition in Pakistan. “Although there’s a multitude of challenges, we see a commitment from the government to turn them into opportunities. Through a wide variety of science-based nutrition products, we are poised to be a trusted strategic healthcare partner,” he added.

Originally published at The News