The Ashanti Regional Directorate of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has held a stakeholders’ meeting over the implementation of the Girls’-Folate Tablet Supplementation (GIFTS) Programme in Kumasi.
GIFTS, a public health intervention, is designed to provide adolescent girls with free weekly iron and folic acid (IFA) supplements, to help prevent and reduce reported high prevalence of iron-deficiency anaemia among girls in that age bracket attending second cycle schools.
It is a collaboration between the GHS and the Ghana Education Service (GES) with funding from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Dr Kwasi Awudzi-Yeboah, Deputy Regional Director in charge of Public Health, said the goal of the programme is to stem the incidence among the target group – girls between 10 and 19 years.
He said available statistics of iron-deficiency anaemia cases in women recorded generally in health facilities in the Region in year 2017-2018, indicated a rising trend and the target group has been earmarked as the critical mass for the intervention.
The Deputy Regional Director of Health gave the figures as 93,451 in 2017 and 107, 245 in 2018.
“What has informed the selection of this age group is their susceptibility due to their monthly discharge.
Again, they would soon start the reproductive life and so need to be healthy by way of good nutrition and blood boosting supplementation, as this would always raise their haemoglobin levels, in order to remove all the risk associated with performing that biological function”, he said.
Dr Yeboah Ewudzi said the expectation is to reduce anaemia levels by at least 20 per cent from baseline among adolescent girls in such school by end of 2019”, he said.
Community health nurses, according to him, would also reach out to out-of-school adolescent girls at the community level.
He said the tablets were only meant to supplement or complement the nutrients derived from the variety of food they ate and cautioned against low intake of iron-rich foods.
All stakeholders are encouraged to play active roles in the implementation of the programme to achieve the desired results, Dr Ewudzi said.
Mr Raphael Sarkodie, Training and Development Officer at the Regional Education Directorate, lauded the programme and pledged the commitment of the GES to improve the health of adolescent girls in schools.
The meeting was attended by representatives from the Ghana Education Service (GES), the Ghana Health Service (GHS), traditional and religious leaders as well as civil society organisations.