Hajia Alima Sagito Saeed, a Member of the Ghana Coalition of Civil Society Organizations for Scaling up Nutrition (GHACCSSUN), has said addressing the nutritional needs of Ghanaians was the key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
That, she noted, would ensure that the country produced a strong and resilient human resource base that would implement innovative policies to achieve accelerated growth and development.
She, therefore, called for full commitment and strategic investment from the government and other major stakeholders geared at building resilient households to address the challenges confronting access to the requisite nutrition.
Hajia Saeed said this in Bolgatanga, at a regional learning programme on a multisectoral nutrition project organized by the USAID Advancing Nutrition Ghana, in partnership with the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council.
Hajia Saeed explained that nutrition was significant for the proper growth and development of children, underscoring the urgent need for major stakeholders such as the Assemblies, to ensure that nutritional security was a topmost priority.
She noted that access to nutrition was a major ingredient to combating stunting and other related diseases and therefore called on the various Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies to make enough budgetary allocation in their Medium-Term Development Plans towards nutrition.
She advocated intensification of awareness campaigns on the need for families to prioritize the nutritional needs of their children and implement policies that would empower families economically to engage in income generation activities.
Mr Stephen Yakubu, the Upper East Regional Minister, in a speech read on his behalf by Alhaji Mohammed Issahaku, the Bawku Municipal Coordinating Director, said although the country had made progress at tackling issues of nutrition, more needed to be done.
He said malnutrition continued to be a big challenge in the region which needed sustainable measures to effectively address it.
“In 2014, 19 per cent of children below five years in Ghana were estimated to be stunted, in 2018 the rate of stunting amongst children of the same age was estimated at 18 per cent, unfortunately, for the Upper East Region, 14 per cent of children below five years were estimated to be stunted in 2014 and this has increased to 18 per cent in 2018.
“We have no choice, therefore, than to double our efforts to address malnutrition. In doing this, it is important for all stakeholders to work together and better coordinate their efforts from the national level to the local level,” he added.
Mr Yunus Abdulai, the Chief of Party, USAID Advancing Nutrition Ghana, noted that the project was being implemented in 17 districts across four regions including Northern, North East, Upper East, and Upper West Regions to coordinate and strengthen multisectoral collaboration to develop food security and nutrition guidance and tools in the MTDPs of the Assemblies.
He said the project was being implemented in Bawku Municipal, Bawku West, Garu, and Tempane Districts in the Upper East Region and was aimed at improving upon the nutrition status of Ghanaians.
“USAID Advancing Nutrition will provide technical support and assessment services to advance the Government of Ghana’s efforts to improve district planning for equitable delivery of services that promote household resilience and early childhood growth and development,” he added.