Call to Reinstate RHN Program to Tackle Nutrition-Related Diseases, Says Prof Aikins

non-communicable disease
Noncommunicable Diseases

Professor Ama De-Graft Aikins of the Regional Institute for Population Studies, University of Ghana, has called on authorities to reintroduce the Regenerative Health and Nutrition (RHN) programme to address the challenges of nutrition-related chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD).

The Professor said the problems of nutrition-related NCDs had increased since the programme ended in 2006 due to logistical and political challenges in public health nutrition.

She called for concerted efforts to address the issues related to health and nutrition in the country.

Professor Aikins made the call during a lecture on the topic ” Food is Medicine, Food is Poison: A Social Psychological Perspective on Ghana’s Public Health Nutrition Crisis.”

The lecture was organised by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences in Accra.

She said the Ministry of Health in 2006 piloted the RHN programme, which was spearheaded by the late Major (Rtd) Courage Quashigah, the then Minister of Health.

The programme, developed in collaboration with the African Hebrew Development Agency, was piloted in nine districts of the country.

The programme focused on improvements in lifestyles, health promotion, and disease prevention, among others.

The programme, she said, suffered setbacks due to a complex blend of conceptual and political factors and could not mature into a national-level intervention.

She said the country had to take a relook at its policy interventions targeted at addressing public health nutrition that would maximise the needed benefits.

“We have a problem with policy discontinuation. We set up policy and do not see how well it is implemented,” she said.

The Professor called on Ghanaians to respect the local food cultures, stressing, “Our Ghanaian foods like fufu and soup, Kenkey and fish, among others, are nutritious, delicious, fun to cook, and fun to share with others.”

She called on authorities to address the toxic agricultural practices, environmental degradation, and marketing strategies of multinational food companies that undermine local food cultures.

“We need to incorporate local knowledge into policy and practice on dietary interventions and make the nutrition research field more interdisciplinary,” she said.

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