600,000 children to benefit from $5m Japanese grant

Mr Agyemang Manu shaking hands with Mr Tsutome Himeno. Those with them are Mr. Takashi Uesugi (left) and Mrs Rukia Yacoub, Photo, Set Adu Agyei

Mr Agyemang Manu shaking hands with Mr Tsutome Himeno. Those with them are Mr. Takashi Uesugi (left) and Mrs Rukia Yacoub, Photo, Set Adu Agyei

The Japanese government has provided a five million dollar grant to Ghana to support interventions at reducing malnutrition across the country.

The funds targeted at addressing the canker in the Northern and Ashanti regions is expected to reach out to about 600,000 Ghanaians to improve their nutritional needs by end of 2020.

It will also complement ongoing nutrition programmes by the World Food Programme (WFP), Ghana, to tackle under nutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, stunted growth, overweight and obesity among children from zero to two years.

The target groups comprising highly impoverished pregnant women, nursing mothers and adolescent girls in the implementing areas will receive e-vouchers to access locally-produced nutritious food supplements to ensure healthy growth among children.

At a brief ceremony on Tuesday which saw the Japanese Ambassador, Tsutomu Himeno and Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu sign a memorandum of understanding to that effect, the minister pointed out that part of the funds will support research and public sensitisation on the dietary needs of citizens.

Expressing surprise at why despite the “rich, nutritious staples we produce in the country” mothers were unable to feed children with such foods, thereby making them stunted, Mr Agyeman-Manu noted that the consistent public education to improve nutrition could not be overemphasised..

“There is still high malnutrition in the country and we seeing about 22 per cent stunted growth in areas like the Ashanti Region where most of our foodstuffs come from and this is unacceptable,” he observed.

The sector minister thanked the Japan government for its assistance promising that the ministry through the Ghana Health Service (GHS) would expand its outreach to improve nutrition in the country.

The WFP Country Director, Ms Rukia Yacoub noted that the grant was timely as it coincided with the “country’s new strategic plan on nutrition which begins in 2019 for which we are establishing new partnerships and strengthening old ones.”

“We can now expand from the Northern Region into the Ashanti Region where malnutrition especially stunting affects a large number of children,” she noted.

Ms Yacoub mentioned that the food supplements; “Koko Plus” and “Grownut” to be provided under the programme “could be added to multiple foods given to children to ensure they grow strong and healthy.”

She thus urged all mothers to pay particular attention to the dietary needs of children to prevent stunted growth.

The Japan Ambassador to Ghana, Tsutomu Himeno on his part said his government was committed to championing peace, security and development on the African continent hence the periodic hosting of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development to promote collaborative partnerships.

“We consider nutrition and issues related to health as critical for human security, good health and safety and we are pleased to contribute our quota in this light to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals which aims at not leaving anyone behind,” he stated.

By Abigail Annoh

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