‘Scaling up Nutrition’ (SUN), a country-led effort to eliminate all forms of malnutrition, was organised by the Ghana Nutrition Summit last week to initiate a stocktaking analysis of progress made since Ghana joined SUN in 2011.
Malnutrition contributes significantly to maternal mortality worldwide, and is a leading risk factor for the global burden of disease.
In a statement read on his behalf, the Minister of Planning, Professor George Gyan-Baffour, observed that the 2014 Demographic and Health Survey indicates that the Northern and Upper Regions had stunting rates at 33 percent and 22 percent respectively – above the national average of 18.8 percent.
“There is also unacceptably high child malnutrition and increased incidence of diet-related non-communicable diseases, and a prevalence of nutritional deficiencies including overweight and obesity.”
Prof. George Gyan-Baffour added that the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative by government is the pathway for a sustainable and modernised system for ensuring food production, adequacy and availability for every household in Ghana.
Joseph Dodoo read the Minister of Health’s speech and said recent studies have shown that child nutrition indicators have not improved substantially over the past years, in spite of the renewed effort by all stakeholders to improve nutrition outcomes in Ghana.
“Although Ghana has reduced stunting by five percentage points in the last two years, the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies such as anaemia is high.
“As a Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) country, Ghana is expected to aggressively pursue new initiatives, break new ground and mobilise public support for action to scale-up nutrition. This requires developing proven nutrition and nutrition sensitive interventions.”
The minister assured that his ministry is committed to SUN principles that enjoin stakeholders – and governments in particular – to be accountable, transparent, inclusive and results-oriented. Government, he assured, recognises nutrition as a national development priority.
According to UNICEF, 1.4 million children suffering from severe acute malnutrition are at imminent risk of death. In 2012, six global nutrition targets were adopted at the World Health Assembly to be achieved by 2025.
This was followed by the announcement in 2016 of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, which highlights key areas where concrete, measurable and accountable efforts are much needed to reach these targets.
SUN was launched in 2010 and there are now over 53 countries participating in the movement, supported by five global networks and guided by a 27-member Lead Group. The government of Ghana, being an early-riser member of the SUN Movement, is in the forefront of the fight to ensure nutrition security for all through the effort of improved policy actions.
Malnutrition cost Ghana US$2.6billion in 2012, representing 6.4 percent of the country’s GDP.