The First Lady of the Republic of Ghana, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo has lauded an initiative to mobilize community support in promoting good nutrition and called on all to help intensify efforts to promote six months of exclusive breastfeeding.
She made this call at the opening session of the Nutrition Advocacy and Community Mobilization Initiative, a forum to engage esteemed traditional and religious leaders to promote nutrition interventions for women and children in Ghana.
The initiative is spearheaded by the Ghana Health Service in partnership with the WHO Ghana, UNICEF Ghana, and Infanta Malaria Prevention Foundation.
The forum brought together representatives of the National Queen Mothers Platform Ghana from across the country as well as school children to solicit their support in promoting good nutrition, breastfeeding and reduce anaemia in children.
Mrs Akufo-Addo in her keynote address indicated that public health experts had raised concerns about a possible risk of nutrition crises due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The world risks destruction to food systems, income loss which would prevent women and children from accessing nutrition and drugs and essential nutrition services, ultimately risking derailment to efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”, she added.
She further stressed the need for nursing mothers to practice exclusive breastfeeding for at last the first six months after delivery and advocated for workplaces, markets, churches, and other places to have convenient spaces for mothers to breastfeed their children.
UNICEF Representative in Ghana, Anne-Claire Dufay said a well-nourished child can grow and learn better, participate in society and be resilient in the face of diseases such as COVID-19. She however bemoaned the case of Ghana, where millions of children are missing out on this opportunity as 1 in 5 children is still stunted.
She commended the Girls Iron Folate Supplementation Initiative to reduce anaemia among adolescent girls, which was launched four years ago in just four regions, but currently covers all the sixteen regions of Ghana with excellent results.
Country Representative for WHO, Dr Francis Kasolo noted that maternal nutrition during pregnancy and nutrition in the first 2 years of life (1000 days) are crucial in a child’s neurodevelopment and set the very foundation for the health of the nation. He called for a cross-sectoral collaboration between the health, education, food, and agriculture sectors as well as water and sanitation among many others to address the challenges with nutrition for mothers and children.
The Minister for Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu hinted that together with key health partners, the Ministry has worked to develop a comprehensive roadmap for achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) with the intent of leaving no one behind especially the vulnerable particularly mothers and children.
Mr. Agyeman-Manu believes that the initiative would strengthen existing partnerships to mobilize the requisite support to scale up interventions to improve child survival and nurturing care of children at community levels.
He further pledged his outfit’s commitment to the advocacy initiative and any community engagement initiative that would enhance service delivery at the CHPS and other operational levels.
Globally in 2020, 149 million children under 5 were estimated to be stunted, 45 million wasted, and 38.9 million overweight. These are coupled with micronutrient deficiencies affecting millions, particularly in the developing world.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO), Ghana.