A programme review workshop of Ehsaas Nashonuma was held this week in Islamabad. Senator Dr. Sania Nishtar chaired the workshop. The workshop took stock of the programme progress, successes and lessons learnt across 14 districts to upscale it nationwide. “The federal government plans to scale-up Ehsaas Nashonuma to overcome common health problems like stunting, underweight and overweight in children under two years of age, especially in underprivileged areas of the country”, remarked Dr. Sania.
Dr. Sania highlighted the importance of the review, mentioning that the Government is planning to now expand the programme. She also remarked that Ehsaas Nashonuma continues to be an evidence-driven programme.
Reflecting on field experiences in the workshop, it was discussed that with the completion of Ehsaas Survey, the turn out under Nashonuma has increased, especially after new survey data since May 2021. Khyber district has crossed its initial targets standalone and registered more than 10,000 beneficiaries. Also, increased immunization, service-based deliveries, health care facilities reported that this programme helped them to reach their immunization and health targets.
Keeping in view the difficult terrains across Balochistan, KP, GB and AJK, Ehsaas also looked into the possibility of introducing mobile Ehsaas Nashonuma Centers in terms of the way forward.
Ehsaas Nashonuma programme is now operational through 50 Nashonuma facilitation centers in 14 most stunted districts of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab and administrative unit Islamabad. Currently, 63,420 pregnant and lactating women and children under two years of age have been enrolled in the programme with a weekly increase of 2,741 beneficiaries in the last week.
Representatives from the field teams of Ehsaas Nashonuma in Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, KP, GB and AJK participated in the workshop along with experts from the World Food Programme (WFP) and Ehsaas team. Chris Kaye, Country Director of WFP and Naveed Akbar, DG-Ehsaas Conditional Cash Transfers also joined the event.
Launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan in August 2020, Ehsaas Nashonuma programme delivers conditional cash transfers to vulnerable pregnant women, mothers and children under two and provides them with cash stipends, specialized nutritious food, immunizations, antenatal/postnatal checkups and health-awareness sessions.
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. 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.