The First Lady of the Republic of Ghana Rebecca Akufo-Addo has lauded the initiative to mobilise community support in promoting good nutrition, and has called on to help intensify efforts to promote breastfeeding for infants, for up to six months of age
Rebecca Akufo-Addo made this call at the opening session of the Nutrition Advocacy and Community Mobilisation Initiative, a forum which engages leaders to promote nutrition interventions for women and children in Ghana.
The initiative has been spearheaded by the Ghana Health Service, in partnership with the WHO Ghana, UNICEF Ghana, and Infanta Malaria Prevention Foundation.
The forum brought together representatives of the National Queen Mothers Platform Ghana, as well as school children, to solicit their support in promoting good nutrition, breastfeeding and reducing anaemia in children.
Akufo-Addo conveyed in her keynote address that public health experts had raised concerns about a possible risk of nutrition crises due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The world risks destruction to food systems, income loss, which would prevent women and children from accessing nutrition and drugs and essential nutrition services, ultimately risking derailment to efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” she added.
She further stressed the need for nursing mothers to practice exclusive breastfeeding for at least upto six months after delivery, and advocated for workplaces, markets, churches, and other places to have convenient spaces for mothers to breastfeed their children.
UNICEF representative in Ghana, Anne-Claire Dufay, said a well-nourished child grows and learns better, participates in society, and shows physical resilience in the face of diseases, such as COVID-19. She however, bemoaned the case of Ghana, where millions of children are missing out on this opportunity, as one in five children is still stunted.
She commended the Girls’ Iron-Folate Tablet Supplementation Programme, which was launched four years ago, to reduce anaemia among adolescent girls. While initially limited to just four regions, the initiative now covers all the sixteen regions of Ghana, with excellent results.
Dr Francis Kasolo, country representative for WHO, noted that maternal nutrition during pregnancy, and nutrition in the first two years of life, is crucial in a child’s neurodevelopment, and sets the very foundation for the health of the nation. He called for a cross-sectoral collaboration between the health, education, food, and agriculture sectors, as well as water and sanitation, among many other factors, to address the challenges to food and nutrition.
Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the minister for health, conveyed that the Ministry of Health, together with leading health partners, has worked to develop a comprehensive roadmap for achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC), so that no one is left behind, especially the vulnerable mothers and children.
Agyeman-Manu believes that the initiative would strengthen existing partnerships to scale up interventions for improving child survival and child care at community levels. He further pledged his outfit’s commitment to the advocacy initiative, and any community engagement initiative, that would enhance service delivery at the CHPS and other operational levels.
In 2020, a data statistics report collected from all over the world estimated that 149 million children, under the age of five were stunted, 45 million were wasted, and 38.9 million were overweight. These tendencies were coupled with micronutrient deficiencies affecting millions, particularly in the developing world.