By Prosper K. Kuorsoh, GNA
Wa, Jan. 17, GNA - Stakeholders have been called upon to help dispel misconceptions impeding the implementation of the Girl’s Iron-Folate Tablets Supplementation (GIFTS) Programme in the Upper West Region.
The programme, with the goal of contributing to the reduction in anaemia among adolescent girls and menstruating women through weekly Iron and Folic Acid (IFA) Supplementation has come under threat through ignorance, cultural and religious misconceptions emanating from some communities.
Mr Anthony Kullah, the Upper West Regional Nutrition Officer, who made the call during the Regional Stakeholders Meeting on GIFTS in Wa, noted that due to the misconceptions, girls from some communities were either faking sickness or refusing to attend school on Wednesdays to avoid taking the IFA Supplementation tablet.
That girls will not be able to conceive in future and under cover family planning are among some of the misconceptions going on in some of the beneficiary communities according to Mr Kullah.
The Regional nutrition officer therefore called on chiefs, opinion leaders and teachers and other stakeholders to help dispel such misconceptions to ensure the success of the programme in the region.
On benefits of the IFA Supplementation programme, Mr Kullah noted that it contributed to the reduction in high prevalence of anaemia in adolescent girls and women of reproductive age and improved knowledge of adolescent girls and women on the causes and prevention of anaemia.
Other benefits include; improved educational performance of adolescent girls, contribute to making girls and women energetic and healthier as well as contribute to improved pregnancy outcomes.
The Regional Nutrition Officer noted that anaemia prevalence was persistently high in Ghana among women of child bearing age and children, adding that according to the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS 2014) report, 42 per cent of women and 66 per cent of children below five years were affected.
The statistics also had it that among women, those within the adolescent age group of 15 to 19 years, and pregnant women have the highest prevalence levels of 48 per cent and 45 per cent respectively.
Mr Kullah noted that for anaemia among women (15 to 49 years) the region contributed 49.7 per cent and 66.9 per cent above the national averages of 45 and 59 percentages in 2003 and 2008 respectively.
For anaemia among children (6-59 months), he said the region consistently contributed 78.3 per cent, 88.2 per cent and 74 per cent in 2003, 2008 and 2014. which was above the national averages of 76, 78 and 66 percentages respectively.
The Regional Nutrition Officer noted that anaemia in women during pregnancy may lead to poor foetal brain development, low birth weight babies, pre-term delivery, still births, bleeding after delivery, and maternal and neonatal deaths.
Mr Michael Kamal Seidu, a Principal Nutrition Officer at the Wa Regional Health Directorate, noted that children already affected with anaemia were not part of the supplementation programme, explaining that the supplementation was only meant to boost the system against anemia.
He noted that adolescents with sickle cell and menstruating girls above 20 years were also not to be put on the programme.
Naa Ali Seidu Pelpuo Yelmaana, Paramount Chief of the Busa Traditional Area appealed to the programme implementers to train Chiefs on the benefits of the programme to help dispel the misconceptions.
Dr Priscilla Wobil, Health and Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Tamale Field Office called on stakeholders to collaborate effectively to ensure the success of the programme in the region for girls to reap the benefits.