HEALTH AND NUTRITION RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS
Abaseen Foundation has a strong commitment to embedding research, wherever possible, within its activities. Our guiding principle is that all the research we undertake must be in response to the needs identified by the local communities, through the Jirga. We endeavor to engage with community members throughout the research process to provide valued input into the design, management and delivery of our projects.
Research is important for a number of reasons.
• data to help us evaluate the impact of our activities
• an opportunity for capacity building and providing training for our staff employed on the projects
• an opportunity to disseminate through academic publications what we have learned through our projects that may benefit others working in similar environments
• strengthened connections with local academic institutions and hospitals, such as Khyber Medical University and Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar
Since 2007, Abaseen Foundation has undertaken several research projects in collaboration with resarchers based in both UK and Pakistan universities and hospitals, including the University of Central Lancashire, Nottingham University, Khyber Medical University, University of Northumbria, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Preston Royal Hospital and Lady Reading Hopsital. We also collaborate with researchers in the USA, at Johns Hopkins University, and Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute.
Examples of our Research Projects
Comparative studies of diet and bone health in South Asian women in the UK and Pakistan.
This was the first collaborative research study that we conducted between Abaseen Foundation and UCLan, at Nahaqi Hospital (pictured above). The research was designed to examine the relationship between diet, vitamin D status and bone health in postmenopausal women living in the community served by the Nahaqi Hospital, and also in Pakistani women living in Blackburn, UK.
Barriers to optimal nutrition for women and infants
According to UNICEF, in Pakistan, each year, around 25,000 women die due to complications of pregnancy or child birth and at least 300,000 infants die in their first year of life. The reasons for this are many and complex and include malnutrition among women of reproductive ages. We undertook a project to explore the barriers to optimal nutrition for women and their infants living near the Nahaqi hospital, and sought their opinions on the potential solutions.
As a result of this, we
• established a Nutritional Support Unit at the Nahaqi hospital where infants are weighed, those who are malnourished are identified and supplements provided for infant and mother
• Provided basic health and nutrition education for women with infants to make best use of locally available and affordable foods
Lentils and buffalo milk typically prepared outdoors
Iodised salt promotion
Pakistan’s Iodine Deficiency Disorders Control Programme (IDDCP) was launched in 1994
however, approximately half of Pakistan’s population of 200 million are affected with Iodine deficiency disorders (IDD). The National Nutrition Survey in Pakistan revealed marked provincial variation; within Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 25.7% of children 6-12 years of age have some form of IDD
We conducted a survey of 1000 households on the brick kilns close to Peshawar to assess the awareness of the benefits of consuming iodised salt and found that only 2.6% households reported use of iodised salt and only 3.5% knew about health benefits.
With the help of the Jirga and Imams, we conducted a successful education and awareness campaign to promote iodised salt use in the brick kiln community. An unexpected finding of this research was that the quality of the iodised salt was not up to the government standards, and this was highlighted in our study report.
Education campaign about the benefits of iodised salt, putting posters up around the community, distributing leaflets, and door to door visits
Benefits of school lunch on cognitive function
When Abaseen Foundation introduced its school lunch programme at the Noor Model School and Mian Gul School, we had an opportunity to monitor the impact of providing a school lunch on the cognitive performance of the children attending the school. Using a simple paper based test, we monitored the children over a 12 month period. A local government school where no meals were provided served as the control. Our study showed that providing the meal to malnourished primary school age children does improve cognitive function in the lowest quartile of performance.
Biofortified Wheat to Alleviate Zinc Deficiency (BIZIFED project)
The National Survey shows that 40% of the population in Pakistan are zinc deficient. This affects growth, immune function and cognitive development in children.
We are currently working with partners in the UK and in PK to examine the effectiveness of consuming flour made with Zinc-biofortified wheat on zinc status. This project is underway and you can follow our progress by accessing our BIZIFED blog at:
High zinc wheat grain ready to be transported from the farms in Punjab to our project site on the brick kilns near Peshawar