Dr Senanu Kwesi Djokoto, the Deputy Volta Regional Director of Ghana Health Service In-Charge of Public Health, has called for community ownership of policies towards promoting exclusive breastfeeding and good nutrition.
He said the “Start-Right, Feed-Right, from birth-to-Two years” campaign could only be successful if there was total community ownership with all stakeholders playing vital roles.
Dr Djokoto was speaking at the launch of the campaign policy in Ho, aimed to rally support for the initiative among the relevant stakeholders.
He said community ownership was crucial for the campaign to ensure its sustainability towards achieving the needed outcomes.
The Deputy Director urged all and sundry to join the campaign to improve exclusive breastfeeding and promote good complementary feeding for children in the country.
“Our mothers who are the main caregivers, our husbands and fathers, whose influence is overbearing, our revered traditional and religious leaders, our dedicated health workers, our community champions and the media have an important role to play to sustain the campaign and change the narrative,” he said.
He said as part of the year-long campaign, the Regional Health Directorate would be scaling-up baby friendly community initiative programmes in the region, advocate for compliance to the legislature on the marketing of breastmilk substitute (BMS) and increase nutrition counselling services to the target groups.
Dr Djokoto said the Directorate would also undertake frequent media and stakeholder engagement, intensify its sensitisation drive through existing community groups and implement the 10 steps to successful breastfeeding in maternity facilities.
The Deputy Director called on various stakeholders to collaborate effectively to ensure that every child born in homes and communities were put to the breast within the first 30 minutes and continuously breastfed exclusively for six months.
Mrs Victoria Letsa, Chief Executive Officer, VICARCHIE Limited Ghana, a business entity in Ho, said: “the occurrence of stunting, wasting and avoidable childhood deaths due to poor nutrition is still with us and is very much regrettable.”
She urged health workers to give special emphasis to mothers, especially those with low literacy when providing counselling services on breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding.
Mrs Letsa said an increase in investment in nutrition was necessary to achieve the global 2025 World Health Organisation’s targets and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on nutrition.
She called on pregnant women to eat a variety of foods, which contained nutrients to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
Various institutions, departments and agencies, traditional and religious leaders at the launch pledged their support to the campaign.