Accra, March 18, GNA – A project that aims at improving Vitamin A and Iron Supplementation in health service delivery was launched on Wednesday with Dr Ebenezer Appiah Denkyira, Director- General of the Ghana Health Service urging stakeholders to consider practical and innovative ways of ensuring that the already proven interventions reach the most vulnerable.
He said: “It is essential that more emphasis is put on improving the micro-nutrient status of women and children particularly from pregnancy to two years of age or the first 1000 days of life as they have long term consequences on the survival and development of a child.
Micro-nutrients deficiency also known as hidden hunger are persistently high in the West African Sub-region affecting the health of a large proportion of children and contributing to over 50 percent death in children in the sub-region.
The two-year project, funded by Micro-nutrient Initiative, a Health Organization, will explore innovative ways to achieve high micro-nutrient supplementation in Ghana, Gambia and Niger.
Micro-nutrient deficiency is as a result of the lack of vital minerals such as Vitamin A, Iron, and Folate among others in food.
Dr Appiah-Denkyira expressed worry that although malnutrition was one of the world’s most serious health issues, it remains the least addressed problem.
He said Vitamin A deficiency was the leading cause of preventable blindness in children and contributes to impaired immune system function while raising the risk of diseases such as diarrhea and as such a major contributor to the death of children.
“Periodic high-dose Vitamin A supplementation is a proven low-cost intervention that has been shown to reduce child death by 24 percent,”he said.
The Ghana Health Service Boss, called for the support of all stakeholders to scale up the delivery of twice yearly Vitamin A supplementation for children between the ages of six month and five years considering that Vitamin A Supplementation was one of the most cost-effective interventions for improving child survival.
Dr Richard Padame of the Micro-nutrient Initiative, a Health Organization said nutrition must be a top-priority issue in development, saying that malnutrition was among the major stumbling block hindering the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in the sub-region.
He called for continuous educational campaign on the need to improve nutrition
Dr Assogba Laurette, Deputy Director General of the West Africa Health Organization (WAHO) who added his voice to the call to prioritize nutrition issues said about 5000 children become blind due to the lack of micro-nutrients.
Dr Edith Tetteh, Deputy Director at the National Development Planning Commission, who chaired the launch said there was the need to target zero hunger and zero malnutrition.
She said there was also the need for stakeholders to think about sustaining the project beyond the grant period of two years.
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