Programme Head, Maternal Infant and Young Child Nutrition at the Nutrition Department of Ghana Health Service (GHS), Gifty Ampah has disclosed that about 18% of children under five years in Ghana are stunted, 7% are wasted, and over 5% are either overweight or obese whereas.
She added that 35% of children under five years, 22% of non-pregnant women and 42% of pregnant women in Ghana are anemic.
She was speaking on 3FM Sunrise Morning Show on 25 May, 2022 to mark this year’s African Union (AU) Day under theme: “Strengthening Resilience in Nutrition and Food Security on the African Continent”
“Nutrition must be discussed in relation to; health, food, occurrence of disease, the water one drinks and sanitation. We should as a country work towards a good nutrition status for the population so that we can recover from diseases and shocks in order to continue to be productive” Gifty Ampah appealed
She indicated that children are the most vulnerable when it comes to nutrition, hence parents and guardians as well as the country most show keen interest to ensure that all children are given the right nutrition to help them grow well.
The Nutritionist explained that, in terms of stunting, genetics may kick in after two years but most of the issues of being too short for one’s age are related to what you eat. So by two years if one’s height is shorter than the average height of his or her age, the chances are that the person will live with that deficit for the rest of his or her life.
“It starts from the mother’s nutrition because the outcome of pregnancy itself is a good birth weight and follows on from there through breastfeeding” she emphasised
Exclusive Breastfeeding Rate in Ghana increased to 53% in 2008 but it has reduced to 43% as of 2021. This decrease is attributed to the fact that a lot of women are working outside the home and some amount of lack of support from all facets of places including; the work place, the community, and the health sector.
The general objective of the AU Year of Nutrition for 2022 is to secure greater political commitment and investment in nutrition to address ongoing nutrition challenges.
According to the findings of the Continental Accountability Scorecard launched by the African Union and the Africa Leaders for Nutrition (ALN) in 2019, data shows that in the African continent;
· 8 million children under 5 years are stunted, and 58.7 million of those stunted are in Africa
· Only seven (7) member states have stunting rates below 19 percent
· Fifteen (15) member states have child wasting prevalence below 5 percent
· Thirty-eight (38) countries have women’s anemia prevalence rates of more than 30 percent
· Eighteen (18) member states have at least 50 percent of infants exclusively breastfed
· Twenty (20) member states have more than 70 percent prevalence rates for vitamin A supplementation.
At the same time, overweight, obesity and non-communicable diseases related to the quality of diets are increasing rapidly, worsening morbidity and mortality rates. Malnutrition, by its double manifestation, does not spare any African country at one point in the life cycle.
Malnutrition is not only one of the worst killers of children under five years of age but prevents children and adolescents from reaching their full potential, and traps entire populations in vulnerability. Through its negative effects on the development of human capital and its productivity, malnutrition contributes to the delay in African countries’ economic and social development, with unacceptable human consequences on African individuals, communities and nations.
New evidence has shown that the persistence of the burden of malnutrition has very significant consequences for physical, mental, cognitive and physiological development of African children; hence it has become a critical human rights issue that goes far beyond the already existing volatile public health impact.
At the same time, evidence shows that malnutrition leads to decreased social and economic development of nations and becomes a very important political and economic development issue.
By Samuel Afriyie Owusu|3news.com|Ghana