The Nutrition Friendly Schools Initiative (NFSI), a school-aged nutrition intervention project being implemented by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) together with the Ghana Education Service (GES) has begun in some schools in Eastern Region.
The NFSI is an intervention geared towards the promotion of eating nutritious meals to address anaemia and malnutrition among schoolchildren as studies had shown that many school children in Ghana were suffering from anaemia, malnutrition and stunted growth as a result of inadequate nutritious meals.
Sixty selected schools in 12 municipalities and districts in the region are implementing the programme.
They include; Akuapem North and South, Okere, New Juaben North and South, Abuakwa North and South, Fanteakwa North and South, Ayensuano, Suhum and Nsawam-Adoagyiri.
The programme involves several packages, focusing on the four-star diet -fruit day, local dishes day, hygiene day, egg day as well as the Girls Iron Folate Tablets (GIFT) day, where girls are given iron supplements to reduce anaemia.
The four-star diet as recommended by UNICEF for children include staples like cereals, starchy roots and tubers, legumes, fruits and vegetable sources and animal protection sources like milk and eggs.
Mrs Rhoda Kyei-Yamoah, Eastern Regional Nutrition Officer in an interview with the GNA said studies had shown school-going children in Ghana were confronted with the triple burden of malnutrition, overweight/obesity and micronutrients deficiencies resulting in stunted growth, anaemia and development of many diseases in their later years.
She explained that 60 schools were on a pilot basis and each week a school chooses which of the packages to observe and described the implementation as smooth, considering the level of participation by all stakeholders.
She said as part of the training to begin the implementation, heads of implementing schools were urged to engage parents as stakeholders to provide foodstuffs, eggs and fruits, whiles Iron Folate Tablets were given free of charge.
“So far we are happy with the level of cooperation by the schools and the parents who have willingly provided all the essentials needed and we hope it will go a long way to imbibe the eating of nutritious meals in the children for better health outcomes,” she said.
She encouraged parents to be conscious of the kind of foods provided to their wards. They were also encouraged to give their children fruits daily and also ensure they washed their hands with soap under running water.