Gender Minister urges nutritionists to educate public on good eating habit

The Minister for Gender and Social Protection Ms Otiko Afisah Djaba has stressed the need for the nation to devise practical and affordable means to create a Ghana free of malnutrition for improved health and productivity.

She said it was about time nutritionists also endeavor to educate the public on the relevance of adopting good eating habits, in addition to eating nutritious and well balanced diets.

“It is very important that we understand that our health is linked to our eating and drinking habits which results in our productivity; you are what you eat and the life style you maintain,” she said.

Ms Djaba was speaking at the opening of a dialogue on social protection-nutrition linkages in Accra yesterday.

The dialogue was attended by stakeholders from both state and non-state actors to deliberate on policy responses to malnutrition challenges among children, adolescent girls and women.

The minister stated that Ghana had made strides in the fight against malnutrition, especially among children under five and women in their reproductive periods of 15 to 49 years, explaining that, “There has been a reduction in the number of children suffering from stunting from 28 per cent in 2008 to approximately 19 per cent in 2011 and from 14 per cent to 11 per cent for underweight children within the same period, according to the 2014 Demographic and Health Survey,” she said.

The minister stated that micro nutrition deficiencies were, however, still relatively high, particularly among children and women with anemia “as it has been estimated that 65.7 per cent of children and 42.2 per cent of women between 15 to 49 years are anemic.”

Ms Djaba emphasised the need to take pragmatic steps to prevent childhood obesity, which stands at three per cent presently, from increasing further.

She said her ministry would ensure that existing policies were made more nutrition-sensitive by promoting other complementary services to the school feeding and other pro-poor interventions, adding that “these complimentary services will enable beneficiaries to generate more income to purchase more nutritious food for family consumption.”

She encouraged participants to deliberate and come up with roles stakeholders, civil society organisations, ministries, department and agencies and the private sector could play in partnering the ministry to deliver effective solutions to address malnutrition.

Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, a commissioner of the National Development Planning Commission and Ghana’s Focal Person for the Scaling up Nutrition Movement said it was a shame for Ghana to fail on the most basic rights of human existence, that is the right to food as it was endowed with so much.

A recent cost of hunger study on Ghana has indicated that the cost of malnutrition on the nation is GH¢2.6 billion in 2012 alone, representing 6.4 per cent of Ghana’s gross domestic profit (GDP).

He stated that “malnutrition hinders the cognitive development of a child, impairs his or her learning abilities which result in low school attainments and affects a child’s prospects for gainful employment as an adults.”

By Linda Naa Deide Aryeetey       

 

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