Children aged six to 23 months in Tema are to benefit from free micronutrients supplement newly introduced by the Ghana Health Service (GHS).
The supplement contains 15 vitamins and minerals, consisting of vitamins A, C, D, E, B1, B2, B3, B4, B6 and B12, as well as Folic Acids, Iron, Zinc, Copper, Selenium and Iodine.
Mr Samuel Atuahene Antwi, Tema Metropolitan Nutritional Officer, announced this on Tuesday during a community durbar organized by the Tema Metropolitan Health Directorate to mark the 2021 Child Health Promotion Week, on the theme: “Sustaining Child Health Services in the midst of COVID-19 Pandemic.”
Mr Atuahene Antwi explained that each beneficiary child would be entitled to 30 sachets of the micronutrient powder, adding that “each child will be given 30 each for three consecutive months after which they will break for three months and then consume for another three months in that cycle until he or she attains two years.”
He said in its preparation, the powder should not be mixed into boiling food, but warm already prepared ones, indicating that it should be mixed with a small portion of the food and given to the child before the main feeding.
He said to ensure that the powder fully got mixed into the food, it should be incorporated into thicker food rather than watery one as to avoid it running on top of the food.
He cautioned parents against reheating the food mixed with the micronutrients supplement, stressing that if after 30 minutes of mixing it with the food the child was unable to consume all, it should be discarded as they could be a change in taste due to the iron component in it.
Mr Atuahene Antwi asked parents not to give the supplement to other children who do not fall within the beneficiary target age, saying “do not share the supplement with other children even if there are siblings, each package is for a specific child.”
Touching on its side effects, the Metro Nutritionist disclosed that due to the iron content, it could lead to discoloured toilets, diarrhoea, and constipation and, therefore, urged parents not to panic when they observe these effects after feeding the child with the supplement.
He encouraged parents to do exclusive breast feeding for the first six months of a child’s life and start with complementary feeding after six months, stressing that children aged six months and above should be nurtured to take family food instead of canned foods.
The nutritionist further said family meals, especially those for children must contain food elements from all the groupings under the four-star meal, which comprised staples, legumes, fruits and vegetables, and animal protein.
Dr Sally Quartey, Tema Metropolitan Health Director, on her part, encouraged parents to collaborate with health officials to give the necessary care to their children by attending the mandatory monthly health checks for their children.
Dr Quartey gave the assurance that even though the COVID-19 pandemic was still a threat, Child Health Centres have been provided with all the needed logistics to ensure that health officials and parents adhere to the laid down protocols to protect the children.