‘More children face malnutrition in Northern Region’

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Nutrition Surveillance System (NSS) surveys conducted by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) with support from UNICEF between June and November, 2013 indicated that malnutrition cases were increasing among children under five in the Northern Region.

According to a programme officer in the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) office in Tamale, Mrs Gloria Nyam Gyang, the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) conducted in 2011 also indicated that, of the total population of children under five years in the Northern Region, 136,902 (37.4 per cent) were stunted, 83,584 were underweight and 29,650 (8.1 per cent) were wasted.

Mrs Gyang was addressing the annual Northern Regional review meeting on nutrition in Tamale.

Need for multi-sectoral and coordinated approach

The programme officer, therefore, called for a multi-sectoral and coordinated approach to address the worsening malnutrition situation among children under five in the region.

“With 410 days to the end date of the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), we need to step up efforts in reversing these negative trends. To do this successfully, we need partnership, synergy in programme implementation, coordination of nutrition actions and overall institutional ownership of programmes and interventions,” she stated.

According to Mrs Gyang, addressing the problems associated with poor nutrition had become imperative globally, and northern Ghana in particular, could not be left out in these efforts towards ending child hunger and malnutrition.

Importance of good nutrition

She noted that good nutrition was a pre-requisite for physical, mental and social development, and was also essential for success in school and in life, adding that evidence showed that getting the right nutrients at the right time was critical, particularly during the first 1,000 days of pregnancy to delivery, and to the child’s second birthday.

The Northern Regional Minister, Alhaji Mohammed Muniru Limuna, in his address, announced that the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) had set up a Regional Nutrition Steering Committee to promote multi-sectoral approach in programming for nutrition to help tackle the situation.

“As we move into the next planning cycle, we need to work to put nutrition high on the development agenda for the Northern Region and to include different arms of government, civil society, the research community and the private sector in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation processes. We need to work to ensure that nutrition-sensitive development programmes and people’s nutritional well-being are placed at the centre of our priorities,” he stated.

Alhaji Limuna noted that the RCC and for that matter the government was committed to promoting food and nutrition security and also to support whatever initiative that was geared towards addressing malnutrition.

The meeting, which was attended by personnel from the Ghana Health Service (GHS),  the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), the United Nations  (UN) agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the nutrition sector in the region, was on the theme, “Harnessing Sectors for Multi-sectoral Coordination and Planning for Nutrition”.

source : Daily Graphic