Health and nutrition in focus on Pakistani professionals’ study tour

In February, a group of emerging leaders from Pakistan took part in a prestigious study tour as a part of the ‘Promoting Nutrition as a Multi-Sector Priority’ Short Course Award program funded by the Australian Government.

As a part of the Australia Awards Short Course Program, this four-week study tour involved 23 professionals from various organisations within the health and nutrition sector in Pakistan.

Australia Awards are prestigious international Scholarships, Fellowships and Short Courses funded by the the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

Australia Awards Short Courses offer the next generation of global leaders an opportunity to undertake short-term study, research and professional development opportunities in support of key development and foreign affairs priorities.

‘Promoting Nutrition as a Multi-Sector Priority in Pakistan’ Short Course Award was delivered by Griffith University’s International Business Development Unit.

With participants ranging from medical officers, to economists, university professors and government representatives, the diverse group of experts took part in a variety of activities focusing on the current nutritional crisis facing Pakistan.

The study tour also focused on the multiple causes of malnutrition in Pakistan, including the lack of organised marketing facilities, inadequate sanitation and poor coverage of health infrastructure.

Over the four-week program, the group of professionals were able to gain a hands-on experience travelling from various locations in Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast & Canberra.

One of the tour highlights was a roundtable session and Networking Dinner with DFAT, where participants collaborated with Australian government representatives about the challenges and opportunities for nutrition sensitive programming in Pakistan.

Mr Geoff Bowan, the Director of the Pakistan and Central Asia Section from DFAT, spoke at the event, along with Ms Annemarie Reerink, Director for the Economic Enpowerment and Results Section from DFAT.

Other representatives from DFAT who attended this prestigious event from the Agricultural and Food Security Section include Ms Fiona Lynn, the Director, and Mr Timothy Gill, Sector Specialist.

One site visit the group made was a trip to Jamie’s Ministry of Food in Ipswich, where they learnt new, healthy cooking tips and recipes to take home with them to Pakistan.

Other activities included a trip to the Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council, a visit to the Australian Bureau of Statistics and many other site visits and presentations from industry experts from the health sector in Australia.

As a part of the tour, the group also made a courtesy visit to the Pakistan High Commission in Canberra, where they spoke to Dr Muhammad Khalid Ejaz, the Acting High Commissioner.

Along with the site visits, a range of educational workshops ran throughout the month-long program, giving participants the opportunity to effectively develop ‘Return To Work’ plans which could be implemented in the health sector of Pakistan in the future.

Dr Nilofer Fatimi Safdar, an Associate Professor and Program Director at the Nutritional Sciences School of Public Health Dow University of Health Sciences, is just one of many prominent participants of the program.

Other notable attendees include Dr Ali Nasir Bugti, the Provincial Coordinator (BNPMC) from the Provincial Nutrition Cell Health Department, Balochistan, and Mr Shah Jehan, the Chief of Health and Nutrition for the Planning and Development Department for the Government of Balochistan.

As the study tour is just one of three components included in the Short Course Award, the course is set to continue until July, when participants will meet again in Pakistan to prepare their ‘Return To Work’ plans for future implementation in their workplaces.

Australia Awards Short Course Award opportunities build valuable people-to-people links both within Australia and within the Indo-Pacific region, enabling mid-career professionals and emerging leaders to tap into Australian expertise, gaining valuable skills and knowledge.

To find out more about Australia Awards, see DFAT’s website.