Pakistan, Italy sign Rs 500 million agreement for improved healthcare of children, women


Islamabad: Pakistan and Italy this week reached an agreement under which funds amounting to Rs 500 million would be spent to ensure better healthcare facilities for children and women under the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).

The agreement was signed by Co-Director PIDSA Pakistan Islam Zaib, Co-Director PIDSA (Pakistan Italy Debt Swap Agreement) Italy Pietro Del Sette and BISP Director General Naveed Akhtar.

Among others, the signing ceremony here at the Ministry of Economic Affairs was witnessed by Secretary of Economic Affairs Division Dr Kazim Niaz and Italian Embassy’s Charge d’Affaires Roberto Neccia, besides Italian Agency for Development Cooperation’s newly appointed Director Francesco Zatta.

Under the agreement, children, pregnant and lactating women in the targeted districts of Balochistan including Jhal Magsi, Khuzdar and Lasbella would be provided with improved health facilities.

The programme would facilitate around 16,000 children below two years of age, by providing specialized nutritious food and taking care of immunization and regular health checks of mother and child in the above flood-affected districts of Balochistan.

The Nahsonuma Programme’s objective is to prevent stunting in children under 2 years of age, improved weight gain of pregnant women during pregnancy, reduced anaemia and micronutrient deficiencies, improved awareness of maternal and early child health and nutrition, reduced disease burden through improved uptake of available health and nutrition services and prevention of low birth weight.

The whole programme covers 156 districts of Pakistan through World Food Programme and Benazir Income Support Programme.

In addition, a loan of 50 million Euros from the ECO Trade and Development Bank (TDB) has been signed and disbursed already, besides an amount of 20 million Euros from German state-owned investment and development bank – KfW grant has been secured for the same purpose.

The instrument of financing is planned to be signed during G2G in Berlin in May this year.

In addition to that, the French Development Agency (AFD) is also providing a grant of 45 million Euros for addressing the nutrition-related issues of the residents of the Newly Merged District (NMD) and four Southern districts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs is also in negotiations with other donor agencies to secure more funds to address the issues of nutrition and improve the overall health conditions of the children, and pregnant and lactating women in the disaster-hit areas of Pakistan.