Malnutrition amongst children in the East Gonja District (EGD) of the Northern Region is high requiring urgent and coordinated interventions to control the situation.
According to a preliminary baseline study conducted by Shea Network Ghana (SNG), an NGO, at the EGD early this year, 12 per cent of children representing 3,769 were malnourished.
This confirmed an earlier study conducted by United States Agency for International Development in the EGD, which revealed that about 20.3 per cent representing 4,750 children were stunted, 17.3 per cent representing 4,067 children were underweight and 20 per cent involving 4,703 children were wasted.
Miss Grace Ayijunu, Voices for Change (V4C) Project Manager at SNG, presented these findings at a community durbar on nutrition and post-harvest losses at Adamupe, near Salaga in the EGD to increase awareness on malnutrition on families and post-harvest losses’ management at the district.
The durbar formed part of the V4C project being implemented by the Netherlands Development Organization (SNG) through some local partner NGOs to amongst others highlight issues of nutrition, post-harvest losses, and to promote use of clean energy for cooking.
Inadequate intake of protein and other nutrients leaves children malnourished making them experience developmental delays, weight loss and illness.
Ms Ayijunu said the study also revealed that 14.7 per cent representing about 5,166 women in the EGD were underweight and consumed three to four types of foods out of 10 benchmarked by the Ghana Health Service (GHS).
She said the study revealed that even though the national nutrition policy was partly implemented in the district and catered for in the GHS work plans, there was no Committee on Nutrition at EGD to implement the policy.
It was also revealed that nutrition and post-harvest losses did not appear as key priority areas to the EGD and as such no budget was allocated to the sectors apart from GHS undertaking a number of activities whiles nutrition sensitive crops promoted by the EGD Department of Agriculture were not the same as those promoted by the GHS.
Mr Mohammed Tamimu, District Chief Executive for EGD, and Mr Alhassan Mumuni, Member of Parliament for Salaga North, at an earlier forum, acknowledged the issues and committed to taking actions to reverse the situation.
Hajia Azara Amadu, Northern Regional Nutrition Officer, said efforts were being made to increase iron and folic acid supplementation, early initiation of breastfeeding and practising of exclusive breastfeeding as well as increased household consumption of iodized salt amongst others to control malnutrition amongst children in the region.