Ghana to lose GH¢720m in 9 years

MotherandchildMr Albert Abongo, the Upper East Regional Minister, said if the chronic under-nutrition in children was not addressed in good time, it would affect the country’s economic productivity in future.

It is estimated by health experts that between 2011 and 2020 Ghana would lose GH¢720 million through decreased productivity caused by current rates of stunted or chronic under-nutrition.

The Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions are the most affected when it comes to stunting children.

Mr Abongo said this in a speech read by the Deputy Regional Minister, Dr Robert Kugnab-Lam, at the launch of an Advocacy Video Documentary on Stunting, produced by the Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING-Ghana) project in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in Bolgatanga.

Mr Abongo said available statistics showed that one out of three children in northern Ghana was stunted and many children were not growing due to inadequate nutrient intake within the first 1000 days of life.

“This affects the child’s ability to grow normally both physically and mentally. When this happens the children suffer later in life in terms of school performance and economic productivity. This consequently affects our ability as a country to have productive citizens,” the Minister said.

He said stunting and anaemia were the major cause of maternal and infant deaths in Ghana and called on the stakeholders, particularly the traditional and religious leaders, to join the crusade in ending malnutrition among children and women.

Mr Abongo commended USAID for the project and said the Government, through its social protection schemes such as the Livelihood Empowerment Programme, was also contributing to the reduction of malnutrition among some deprived communities in the country.

Dr Kofi Issah, the Upper East Regional Director of the GHS, said although the region had chalked some successes by the World Health Organisation’s standards, the classification of all the nutrition indicators were still poor.

Dr Issah schooled the stakeholders on health and nutrition saying the two were not the preserve of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and urged all stakeholders, particularly family heads, to provide the nutritional needs of their families.

The Deputy Chief of SPRING-Ghana, Mr Babajidi Adebisi, said even though there were nearly 800 million people who were chronically undernourished with approximately 150 under five years of age being stunted, the United Nations and other partners including the USAID  could contribute to mitigate the trend.

He said the SPRING-Ghana project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), had been working in the Northern and Upper East regions since 2014 focusing on anaemia reduction, infant nutrition, water, hygiene, sanitation, social and communication change behaviour.

The Advocacy Video Documentary, which included stakeholders such as traditional and religious leaders, women, youth and opinion leaders, was aimed at stimulating the stakeholders to initiate actions within their respective communities towards addressing the prevalence of stunting and anemia in northern Ghana.

Source: GNA

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