The Greater Accra Regional Health Directorate has launched a “Start Right, Feed Right” campaign for the right feeding of young children to keep them healthy.
The launch, which is coming on the heels of a national launch by the First lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, is to inspire mothers to begin the right feeding of children early which would result in their proper growth to realize their full potential in life.
In a key note address at the Medina Polyclinic, the Member of Parliament for the Madina, Mr. Abu-Bakar Saddique Boniface, said that the campaign was necessary as it would encourage parents to take full responsibility of the feeding of their children so that their growth was not negatively affected.
Mr. Boniface said stunted growth occurred because of the way children were fed, observing that some food boosted the physical and mental growth of children and parents should be educated on that.
The Municipal Director of Health, Medina, Dr. Mrs. Priscilla Anima Poku, said the agenda for the launch was to create awareness in Ghana about the need to feed the child right and start right feeding early so they get the full benefit from their diets.
Dr. Mrs. Poku observed that the right quality breast milk contained a lot of nutrients and antibodies that protected the child from many sicknesses and also enhanced the mental capacity of the child.
She informed that, apart from creating a bond between mother and child which was good for the wellbeing of the child, breast feeding also helped the mother to delay the development of ovarian or breast cancer.
Dr. Mrs. Poku said the campaign was necessary because the life of a child was important. She therefore urged all to embrace the campaign and help to give children the right food early and the right quantity that would let them grow to become good citizens.
The Regional Nutrition Officer for Greater Accra, Mrs. Faustina Vinariba Tour, said her outfit “counsel mothers when they are pregnant and help them to do breast feeding within 30 minutes of child birth. We educate them to continue with six months exclusive breast feeding and after that we talk to them about optimum feeding to ensure that they feed their children on varieties of food.”
Mrs Tour, who was speaking on behalf of the Greater Accra Regional Director of Health, asked parents to ensure they fed their children on the four-star diet which were protein, legume, staples and vegetable. “Let them eat these food groups per meal or across the day,” she advised.
As part of the campaign, Mrs. Tour indicated that her outfit would support staff to provide skilled counselling at child welfare clinics, advocate for breast and complementary feeding through media and community engagement, support pregnant women to eat well, among others.
Mrs. Tour said the launch was to increase 30 minutes initiation breast feeding from 52% to 80%, exclusive breast feeding for six months from 43% to 60% and the percentage of children that were fed on the minimum acceptable diet from 13% to 30%, all by the year 2025.
The “Start Right, Feed Right—from birth to two years,” launch was rolled out as part of World Breastfeeding Week 2020 which has been planned to be a year-long campaign to promote exclusive breastfeeding from birth to six months.
The campaign is led by the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service and seeks to improve exclusive breastfeeding and promote good nutrition for young children in the Greater Accra Region and Ghana, and address the issue of stunting, wasting and unnecessary deaths.
The campaign is supported by UNICEF, World Health Organization, World Food Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization, and other partners.