The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has held a day’s learning event on Multi-sectoral Nutrition Planning and Coordination as part of the implementation of its Advancing Nutrition project.
The project is being implemented in 17 districts in the Upper West, Upper East, North East, and Northern regions, with five districts and municipalities in the Upper West Region benefiting.
The beneficial districts in the Upper West are, Daffiama-Bussie-Issa, Nadowli-Kaleo, Sissala East, Sissala West, and Wa East.
The learning event was organized in collaboration with the Upper West and the Upper East Regional Coordinating Councils with funding support from the US Government to, among other things, improve understanding of how to strengthen multi-sectoral coordination of food and nutrition security at national and district levels.
Speaking at the event in Wa, Alhaji Abdul-Lateef Umar, the National Support Manager for USAID Advancing Nutrition, observed that malnutrition remained a major development concern in Ghana though the country had made some strides over the years.
He explained that stunting in children for instance reduced from 23 per cent in 2011 to 18 per cent in 2017 and anemia in children dropped from 66 per cent in 2014 to 36 per cent in 2017, and stressed the need for a strengthened multi-sectoral approach to addressing issues of malnutrition in the country.
He observed that the developmental emphasis of the country had been geared towards physical infrastructural development projects, such as schools and roads, with little attention given to nutrition.
“Research has shown that when it comes to nutrition it is very silent, we don’t see it but when you get it right with nutrition it goes a long way to promote national development.
“For instance, a stunted child is likely to become less productive, if nothing is done and becomes a burden to the economy. Anemia is a challenge in terms of children’s development and one of the leading causes of deaths in pregnant women”, he explained.
On his part, Dr. Damien Punguyire, the Upper West Regional Director of Health Services, indicated that nutrition issues accounted for about 60 per cent of all health issues with malnutrition causing ill health and disabilities.
He said his outfit had therefore been collaborating with the RCC and other stakeholders including USAID Advancing Nutrition to help address issues of malnutrition in the region.
“We are happy to collaborate with USAID and other departments to ensure that there is food security, not just its availability, but how it is prepared and how it is consumed, the value chain is very important for longevity and healthy life”, he explained.
He said the learning event would help create platforms for learning as well as for non-project districts to pick lessons from the project to improve on their nutrition interventions in those districts.
About 60 participants, including regional and district health directors, planning officers, coordinating directors, and nutrition officers among others from the project districts and selected non-project districts in the Upper West and Upper East Regions participated in the learning event.
The project started in June 2020 and was planned to end in September 2022.