Mrs Grace Nkrumah, Brand Manager of Nestle Ghana, has expressed fears that the country might not achieve the Millennium Development Goal four (MDG 4) by 2015 since malnutrition was still a major obstacle.
Mrs Nkrumah said though Ghana was on track to achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it was far from meeting MDG 4 by 2015 unless coverage of effective child survival interventions were intensified.
Mrs Nkrumah expressed the concern in Tamale on Wednesday during the launch of the Cerelac Millet, a new product added to the Cerelac baby foods brand of Nestle Ghana, made from millet to boost the nutrition of children as part of measures to address the high under five mortality rates in the country.
The MDG 4 demands governments to reduce by two-thirds the under-five mortality rate by 2015 and to achieve this goal, the country must cut under-five mortality to less than 50 deaths per 1,000 live births, but the ratio is currently above 70 per 1,000 according to the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Mrs Nkrumah said iron deficiency-anaemia could impair cognitive performance at all stages of life, it could also increase the risk and severity of other morbidities as well as ultimately resulting in deaths.
She said interventions specifically directed at nutrition and health, dietary diversification and fortification, and other public health interventions that resulted in improvements in iron nutrition were a step in the right direction.
She said the Nestlé new Cerelac Millet was fortified with iron, which would help reduce anaemia in infants and curb under-five mortality to help the country in its attempt to meet MDG4 by 2015.
Mrs Rosanna Agble, a nutrition consultant, said there was the need to collaborate with key players including government and the private sector to intensify efforts to enable the country to achieve MDG4.
She said research showed that only 30 per cent of infants aged between 6-8 months received iron-rich foods as compared to 90 per cent of those above 2 years and that iron deficiency anaemia during infancy might have a long-term and irreversible adverse effect on cognitive development.
She said in the first six months of life, the infants’ nutritional requirements could be totally satisfied by breast milk and that after the initial six months, the baby needed supplementary foods that contained iron and other necessary nutrients to grow well.
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