Ms Pippa Bradford, WFP Country Director in Ghana, said vitamin A deficiency, which compromises immunity and could lead to blindness, affected eight out of 10 children under the age of five.
Speaking at a flag raising ceremony to mark World Food Day, she said childhood iodine deficiency, which affects permanently the level of intelligence that a person could achieve in life, affects seven out of 10 children.
Ms Bradford said food and nutrition situation in Ghana was parallel to the global situation while the number of hungry people had dropped to just five per cent of the population, adding that these gains were not spread evenly throughout the country.
She said 28 per cent or almost one in three people in the Upper East Region are chronically malnourished. A quarter of children under the age of five in Ghana are stunted and this means 800,000 children are unable to grow to meet their full potential.
She said the WFP is helping to address some of these challenges in the country by helping rural communities to build important community projects to sustain their food systems.
Ms Bradford said in northern Ghana her Organization had been working with regional offices of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and with District Assemblies on projects such as rehabilitating small dams and dug-outs and extending irrigation systems.
She said in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service, pregnant women, nursing mothers and children suffering from moderate acute malnutrition are provided with nutritious food supplements to ensure that young children rapidly regain good nutritional status; and parents are coached on good feeding practices for their children.
“Increasingly, we are focusing on the first 1,000 days of a child’s life when good nutrition is essential to build the child’s body and mind,” she said.