Stephen Asante, GNA
Kumasi, Aug. 08, GNA - A multi-stakeholder project to address malnutrition in children in the Asokore-Mampong Municipality of the Ashanti Region, has been launched at a ceremony at the Parkoso Health Centre.
The project, an initiative of the World Food Programme(WFP), Japanese government, Ajinomoto Foundation, manufacturers of ‘KOKOPlus’, a food supplement, and Ghana Health Service (GHS), aims at reducing the incidence of stunted growth in children to the barest minimum.
“Today, we mark the beginning of a project to address malnutrition in an area which WFP has not supported with nutrition interventions over the years,” Ms. Rukia Yacoub, the WFP Representative and Country Director, noted.
The programme, she explained, fell under the nutrition component of the WFP’s Country Strategic Plan, which focused on micronutrient deficiencies and stunting or chronic malnutrition considered as a major impediment to human capital development.
The ‘Cost of Hunger Report on Ghana’, according to the WFP, had revealed that 37 per cent of the adult population suffered from stunting when they were children, and the annual costs associated with child under-nutrition cost the nation 6.4 per cent of her Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“These figures make it quite clear that eliminating stunting in Ghana is a necessary step for sustained national development,” Ms. Yacoub said.
She stressed that the project focused on reproduction, maternal, neonatal and child nutrition through effective social and behavioural change communication, and is supported with monthly distributions of locally-produced specialized nutritious foods.
The WFP Country Director indicated that the most vulnerable who could not afford to buy the specialized nutritious foods, would be given the products free of charge.
She pointed out that stunting did not only affect a child’s health, but also his or her physical and brain development, and that, such children were less likely to achieve their full potential as adults.
“It is my ardent hope that at the end of the project a lot more integration and synergies would have been achieved amongst the partners, in order to accelerate attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG Two (2).
Mr Hiromoto Oyama, representing the Japan Embassy in Ghana, said the Japanese government was happy to have been associated with the project since stunting was an impediment to enhancing the health of the people.
Ms. Esi Amoaful, Deputy Director of Health in-charge of Nutrition, Ghana Health Service, urged stakeholders to be supportive of the government’s campaign to promote healthy living amongst the people.