Government has been asked to fast-track efforts to develop a nutrition planning manual to enhance the capacity of sectors and districts for nutrition planning and coordination as part of the guidelines for the development of Medium Term Development Plans.
This was contained in a communique issued by Grameen Foundation Ghana (GRAMEEN Ghana), a civil society organization (CSO), signed by its Head of Programmes, Mr Mugmin Musah and copied to the GNA in Tamale.
The communique was developed after the first Northern Regional Nutrition Conference held in Tamale on Thursday to amongst others develop key strategies to addressing malnutrition in the Region. The conference, attended by partners drawn from various institutions including the Ghana Health Services, was organized by GRAMEEN Ghana in partnership with the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) as part of the Voices for Change Partnership Programme (V4C). The V4C is implemented by SNV through some local partner CSOs to amongst others highlight issues of food and nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene and energy. The communique commended the government for developing the national nutrition policy to ensure optimal nutrition for all but added that a lot more needed to be done to address the unacceptable high levels of malnutrition in the country. Statistics show that the incidence of stunting and anaemia of under-five children in the Northern Region is 33 per cent and 82 per cent compared to national average of 19 per cent and 66 per cent respectively. The communique, therefore, asked government to increase budgetary allocation and disbursement of funds for nutrition interventions especially at the regional and district levels. It called on government to activate and fund Northern Region Multi-stakeholder Platform to meet regularly to monitor and review progress in achieving nutrition indicators in the Region. It said government should establish a comprehensive system for tracking nutrition sector budget and expenditure to improve public accountability for nutrition sector programmes. It called for adoption of strong multi-sectoral approach by ensuring that all government sectors responsible for nutrition collaborated effectively to chart a common course for nutrition related interventions. The communique also called on government to ensure continuous collaboration with civil society and development partners in the implementation, monitoring and review of nutrition interventions. It called on government to provide conducive economic and regulatory environment for the private sector to invest in local industries for producing nutrition sensitive products. It said government should task the Ministry of Local Government and the respective Regional Coordinating Councils to create incentive programmes for metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies with higher performance in achieving regional nutrition related targets. It called on government to prioritize nutrition in current policies and programmes such as Planting for Food and jobs. The communique also called on government to revamp Regional/District Iodized Salt Committees especially in Northern Region. It said government should enforce Legislative Instruments (LI) on transportation and sale of non-iodized salt, and for marketing of breast milk substitutes. It also called for resourcing of the Nutrition Task force for Northern Region to meet regularly and do effective monitoring to achieve the Regional Targets.