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Address the nutrition gap or face a generational challenge – Prof. Badu Akosa

By
Christabel Addo/ Doris Ablordey – GNA

Accra, July 4, GNA – Professor Agyeman Badu
Akosa, the Commissioner of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC),
has called for strengthened stakeholder collaboration in addressing the
country’s nutritional challenges.

He said the poor nutritional status of
majority of Ghanaians, particularly those living in the Northern, Upper East
and Upper West Regions and other rural communities, posed a great threat to the
attainment of national development aspirations.

A recent Cost of Hunger Study on Ghana, he
said had revealed that as many as 37 per cent of the citizens transited from
childhood malnutrition into adulthood, underlying the low educational
attainment of the country, which was a far cry from the human resources needed
to attain these development aspirations.

He said the study showed that Ghana lost a
total of GHC2.6 billion to malnutrition in 2012 alone, which was equivalent to
6.4 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.

Prof Akosa, who was also Ghana’s Focal Point
for the Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, in an address at a Social
Protection Nutrition dialogue in Accra on Tuesday, said the country was endowed
with so much that it was shameful for her to fail on the most basic right of
human existence, which was the right to food. 

He thanked the Ministry of Gender, Children
and Social Protection (MoGCSP), for engaging the key state and non-state actors
to build consensus on crucial social protection interventions in the quest to
end malnutrition.

He explained that with the knowledge that a
mono-sector approach to nutrition could only deal with just a third of the
needed solutions to malnutrition, the NDPC, had since 2011, established a
Cross-Sectoral Planning Group, to strengthen dialogue around nutrition policy
formulation, planning and programming at all levels.

The Commission, he said, had also been
pursuing sector-specific dialogues based on commissioned reports, which had
proposed nutrition-sensitive pathways in education, Water and Sanitation
Hygiene (WASH) and Social Protection.

Prof Akosa said it was expected that the
Gender Ministry would map out and integrate into its medium-term development
plan a nutrition-social protection agenda, and ensure its implementation for
better outcomes for vulnerable groups.

He also called for the development of critical
and innovative strategies for sourcing for local funding of leverage existing
programmes and make them more nutrition sensitive programmes for especially
underserved populations.

Madam Otiko Afisah Djaba, the Minister of
Gender, Children and Social Protection, admitted that although Ghana had made
progress in the fight against malnutrition especially among under-five
children, and in women in their reproductive periods, there was still a huge
gap that needed to be urgently addressed.

She said a number of interventions had been
made in the areas of introducing nutrition-sensitive policies in areas
including agriculture, education, WASH, gender equality and women’s
empowerment.

However, micronutrient deficiencies were still
relatively high, particularly with anaemia amongst women and children, and that
urgent steps were needed to prevent childhood obesity, which currently stood at
three per cent from increasing.

She said the Ghana Health Service’s
supplementary feeding programme to women during antenatal and post-natal
periods, the Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty programme, and the national
School Feeding Programme, were all efforts aimed to enhance the nutritional
status of these vulnerable groups.

The Gender Minister said these interventions
had led not only to enhanced nutritional statuses of these beneficiaries, but
had also improved incomes of households, ensured food security and improved the
general livelihoods of the extremely.

Madam Otiko advised the public to substitute
the eating of unhealthy and fatty diets with nutritionally-balanced foods,
accompanied with exercising for good health.

GNA

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