The second phase of the Live Strong with Iron campaign that is educating Ghanaians on the risks, symptoms and solutions of iron deficiency starts today with a renewed focus on reaching those at the highest risk.
According to the WHO, Iron Deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world. In Ghana, Iron Deficiency affects approximately 42% of women of childbearing age and 66% of children under 5 years old. Signs of Iron Deficiency include headaches, tiredness, dull skin, hair loss, and reduced immunity.
In children under 2 years, iron deficiency can slow brain development and growth. Iron deficiency can also impact the outcome of pregnancy. As the next phase of this campaign kicks off, informative programs will be aired on leading radio and TV stations reiterating the importance of iron in keeping us healthy and productive.
The radio campaign will feature discussions structured to shine the spotlight on everyday real-life stories of women and children who are iron deficient, the impact it has on their daily lives and expert advice on the simple and locally available solutions to address it.
A leading expert on the campaign and immediate past Dean of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Ghana, Professor Matilda Steiner-Asiedu, has strongly indicated that “Proper nutrition is a major component of sustainable development.
Without it, the wellbeing of individuals and families suffer and it impacts negatively on the economy. Realizing that iron deficiency is prevalent in Ghana, it is important for all actors to come together to help create awareness for Ghanaians to eat foods rich in iron to curb the rate of the deficiency in Ghana”.
Professor Steiner noted, “It is very imperative to help people in making the best choices of nutritional meals for themselves and their families. Making the best choices begins from our mindset and paying critical attention to the things we buy for our daily meals. These are our everyday affordable iron-rich local foods as well as products fortified with iron will help preserve the most productive lives that we clearly want to have now and in the future without any health complications arising from Iron Deficiency”.
In addition to the radio campaign messages, a series of informative articles will be published online and in local newspapers. The new phase will be very engaging and interactive to ensure the everyday Ghanaian is well informed.
Following the campaign launch in October last year on the World Food Day, the Live Strong with Iron campaign seeks to reach and sensitise the high-risk groups and inspire a behaviour change through simple nutritional solutions such as eating iron-rich and iron-fortified foods to prevent iron deficiency in Ghana.
“Including iron-rich foods such as kontomire and other dark green vegetables, agushi, red meat, beans, eggs, chicken, and iron-fortified foods and drinks in our daily meals can prevent iron deficiency anaemia. In addition, snacking on groundnuts, cashew nuts and dried fruits which are some good sources of iron can go a long way to complement meals”, added Professor Steiner.
Iron-fortified foods are affordable and readily available everywhere, they play a key role in helping to close the iron-deficiency gap. While Ghanaians may be surprised at the staggering numbers of women and children suffering from Iron Deficiency, this can be curtailed.
With a purpose of “unlocking the power of food to enhance the quality of life for everyone, today and for generations to come”, Nestlé’s Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Manager Deborah Kwablah highlighted that, “Nestlé believes in sharing and applying nutrition knowledge as a means to helping bridge the nutritional gap including iron in Ghanaian communities. Together with key actors, we can accelerate actions to achieve Sustainable Development Goals 2 and 3 – Zero hunger and Good health and wellbeing, respectively.”
In achieving this objective, all stakeholders including health experts and policymakers, dieticians, media among others are urged to support the campaign and help in fighting Iron Deficiency in Ghana.
The Live Strong with Iron Campaign is championed by Nestlé, the Good Food, Good Life company in Ghana and will be scaled up in other West and Central African countries.