The First Lady of the Republic of Ghana, Ms. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has praised an initiative to mobilize community support to promote good nutrition and urged everyone to step up their efforts to promote six months of exclusive breastfeeding.
She made this appeal at the inaugural session of the Nutrition Advocacy and Community Mobilization Initiative, a forum to involve valued traditional and religious leaders in promoting nutritional interventions for women and children in Ghana.
The initiative is led by the Ghana Health Service in collaboration with WHO Ghana, UNICEF Ghana and the Infanta Malaria Prevention Foundation.
The forum brought together representatives from the National Queen Mothers Platform Ghana from across the country as well as school children to seek their support in promoting good nutrition, breastfeeding and reducing anemia in children.
Ms. Akufo-Addo noted in her keynote address that public health experts had raised concerns about a possible risk of food crises due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The world risks the destruction of food systems, loss of income that would deny women and children access to food and medicines and essential nutrition services, which ultimately risks derailing efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” she added.
She also stressed the need for breastfeeding mothers to practice breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months after giving birth, and advocated that workplaces, markets, churches and other places have comfortable spaces for mothers to breastfeed their children.
UNICEF representative in Ghana, Anne-Claire Dufay, said a well-fed child can grow and learn better, participate in society and be resilient in the face of diseases like COVID-19. However, she lamented the Ghana case, where millions of children are missing out on this opportunity as one in five children is still stunted.
She praised the Girls Iron Folate Supplementation Initiative to reduce anemia in adolescent girls, which started four years ago in only four regions, but currently covers all sixteen regions of Ghana with excellent results.
The WHO country representative, Dr. Francis Kasolo, noted that maternal nutrition during pregnancy and nutrition for the first 2 years of life (1000 days) are critical to a child’s neurological development and are the foundation of the country’s health. Among other things, he called for cross-sectoral collaboration between the health, education, food and agriculture, water and sanitation sectors to address maternal and child nutrition challenges.
Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman-Manu pointed out that the ministry had worked with key health partners to develop a comprehensive roadmap for achieving universal health coverage (UHC) so as not to leave anyone behind, especially the vulnerable mothers and children.
Mr. Agyeman-Manu believes the initiative would strengthen existing partnerships to mobilize the support needed to expand interventions to improve child survival and care for children at the community level.
He also pledged his team’s commitment to the advocacy initiative and any community engagement initiative that would improve service delivery at the CHPS and other operational levels.
In 2020, it is estimated that 149 million children under the age of 5 were stunted, 45 million lost and 38.9 million overweight by 2020. These are linked to micronutrient deficiencies that affect millions, especially in developing countries.
Distributed by the APO Group on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO), Ghana.
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July 13, 2021 at 6:53 pm GMT
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