‘Give Attention To Nutrition Policy’

Susan Namondo Ngongi and Daniel Arsenault handing over the keys of the vehicle to Ms Amite as Dr Ebenezer Appiah Denkyira, Director General of Ghana Health Service looks on

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Country Representative, Susan Namondo Ngongi, has urged the Minister of Health, Sherry Ayittey, to give the Nutrition Policy and its Strategic Plan process her utmost attention.

Ms Ngongi said the problem of high under nutrition rate in the country could only be tackled if Ghana implements the strategies outlined in the national nutrition policy.

‘A strong voice like yours, Honourable, will go a long way to advocate the approval of the policy and strategic plan by cabinet as well as the needed resources for its implementation,’ she said.

Ms Ngongi made this call during a presentation of a Hyundai Hilux double cabin vehicle sponsored by the Canadian government, the largest donor to UNICEF nutrition programmes, to the Nutrition Section of the Family Health Directorate of the Ghana Health Service (GHS).

The presentation was UNICEF’s response to a request to provide a vehicle to support the supervision and monitoring of various nutrition interventions throughout the country.

The country currently has 23 percent of its children stunted with six percent wasted, inferring that at any given time period, an estimated 50,000 children in Ghana are severely wasted and need special therapeutic feeding to save their lives.

Also, anaemia, a condition which compromises brain development in children under five years range from 56 percent at national level to 80 percent in the North Region.

Ms Ngongi said Ghana’s fact on under nutrition was not encouraging, stressing the need for a scale-up of interventions to improve nutrition in the country if the trend was to be reversed.

However, she said UNICEF was keen on ensuring that during the first thousand days of life, every parent would be given the opportunity to maximise their children’s development potentials.

‘Since 2013, health workers in 50 districts across the country have gone through the new approaches for promoting infant and young child feeding, logistics such as vehicles, and 10 motor cycles have been provided.

We have also provided measuring equipment and therapeutic foods for treatment of over 10,000 severely malnourished children in the three Northern Regions,’ she said.

Ms Ngongi therefore noted the importance of the vehicle for close monitoring and technical support to ensure implementation of the programmes was not compromised.

Daniel Arsenault, Director of Development Cooperation, Canada High Commission, said Canada through its 15 million Canadian dollar grant was supporting UNICEF and the government of Ghana to scale up highly effective nutrition interventions in the country.

He hoped that the government would utilise the resources in an effective way to ensure that not only citizens in cities benefit from the programmes but also those in rural and hard to reach areas.

Ms Ayittey receiving the vehicle on behalf of the GHS showed her appreciation to the donors.

She said the Ministry was working with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to incorporate the nutrition policy once finalised into the national school feeding programme.

She said this would help ensure that children of school going age would get the needed amount of nutrition for their proper development.

‘With this vehicle, we will be able to identify vulnerable groups in communities and help improve the nutrition status of the country,’ she said.

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri

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