High rate of stunting among children in northern Ghana – USAID
She said even though Ghana had made progress in health over the past decades, the nutrition status of children below five years remained a concern.
She referenced Ghana’s 2022 Demographic Health Survey and indicated that the rate of stunting, thus low height for age was at 18 per cent, compared to 19 per cent in 2014, and wasting, thus low weight for height increased from five per cent in 2014 to six per cent in 2022.
“Stunting remains particularly high in the regions of the north – peaking at 30 per cent in the Northern Region and 29 per cent in the North East Region,” Madam Malave said at the closure of the USAID Advancing Nutrition project in Bolgatanga.
She said the USAID Advancing Nutrition was the Agency’s flagship multi-sectorial nutrition project which addressed the root causes of malnutrition to save lives and enhance long-term health and development.
The project was implemented in 2020 in 55 Municipalities and Districts across the Upper East Region, North East, Savannah, Upper West and Northern Regions.
The beneficiary Districts in the Upper East Region included Bawku West, Garu, Bawku Municipality and the Tempane District.
The project provided technical support to advance Government of Ghana’s efforts to improve planning and delivery of services that promoted household resilience and early childhood growth and development in the selected Districts.
The closing event of the project in Upper East, dubbed ‘Regional Closeout Learning Event,’ brought together stakeholders including traditional rulers in the Region, and was on the theme: “Deepening the multi-sectorial nutrition agenda; The USAID Advancing Nutrition Story.”
Madam Malave who highlighted some achievements of the project over the three-year period, noted that over 250,000 children below five years and 120,000 pregnant women were reached with nutrition services including monthly growth monitoring through the Agency’s support to the Ghana Health Service (GHS).
“More than 5,000 health workers were trained in nutrition service delivery, including promoting infant and young child feeding, anaemia prevention and control, and community management of acute malnutrition,” she added.
The Team Lead said they worked with the National Development and Planning Commission to develop guidelines for food and nutrition security and trained staff at regional and district levels on the guidelines.
That, she noted was critical to ensure that districts made conscious and guided efforts to incorporate food and nutrition security into their medium-term development plans.
“Through this project, we will continue to support health workers to improve service delivery and counseling related to infant and young child feeding, anaemia prevention and control, management of severe acute malnutrition, and community-based nutrition services,” she said.
Madam Malave said poor nutrition had adverse consequences for child survival, long-term well-being and far-reaching consequences for human capital, economic productivity, and national development overall.
She said USAID would continue to work with the GHS to advocate the inclusion of nutrition commodities in the Essential Medicines List, so that the commodities could be covered under the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Mr Stephen Yakubu, the Upper East Regional Minister who officially closed the project in the Region, said the USAID had over the years partnered the Region in diverse ways, and was one of the critical development partners.
“I, therefore, want to use this opportunity to commend them for the tremendous interventions in the areas of governance, peace and security, agriculture and health,” he said.