UN calls on Ghana to step up efforts to reduce malnutrition in children

UN calls on Ghana to step up efforts to reduce malnutrition in children

The United Nations System in Ghana is appealing for increased efforts by stakeholders to reduce the rate of malnutrition amongst children in rural and deprived communities in the country.

The UN therefore calls for food security and nutrition to be put high on the development agenda by key stakeholders including the Government of Ghana as the world celebrates International Day of the African Child.

“Our focus on nutrition is important because we have realised that the consequences of under-nutrition on child growth and development are long lasting and irreversible and without adequate nutrition children will not be able to achieve their full potential in life. Malnutrition will continue to impede children’s development” explains the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Ruby Sandhu-Rojon.

According to the UN system in Ghana, over 140,000 people across the three northern regions are severely food insecure, which means they subsist on a very poor diet of staple foods, some vegetables and oil, and little else. Such a diet can have a major negative impact on the nutritional status of individuals, particularly, children. The three northern regions have the highest rates of chronic malnutrition in children under 5 years old and more than 3 of every 10 children are too short for their age.

Ms Sandhu-Rojon reiterates that “while Ghana is on track to halving the number of children that are underweight and attaining the MDG 1, focus must now be on reducing chronic undernutrition.”

For example, we now know that there are proven nutrition-specific interventions, which if scaled up can have a significant impact on the prevalence of stunting in Ghana.

The UN is providing support to the three northern regions for both nutrition specific interventions such as the promotion of adequate infant and child feeding practices, including exclusive breastfeeding and complementary foods as well as supporting those activities that address the underlying determinants of nutrition such as production of nutrient rich foods, early child development and school enrolment.

The UN is taking measures to harmonise our support across the many sectors that have a role to play in nutrition outcomes such as agriculture, health, education, social protection, water and sanitation and is calling for a concerted effort by stakeholders to do same.

“As an early riser Scale up Nutrition (SUN) Movement country, Ghana has made a strong commitment to reducing malnutrition and we are supporting these efforts at all levels. However we would like to see a stronger partnership to reduce the rate of malnutrition amongst children” says the Resident Coordinator.

The Day of the African Child is marked on 16 June each year to honour the memory of school children killed and the courage of all those who marched in 1976 during a demonstration in Soweto, South Africa, to protest in