Bolgatanga, March 26, GNA - Stakeholders at a forum in Bolgatanga have called on the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to prioritize and mainstream issues of nutrition into their Medium-Term Development Plans (MTDPs) to help address nutritional challenges.
They said when Assemblies paid the needed attention and formulated key nutritional policies with corresponding adequate budgetary allocation, it would propel the effort of the country towards building strong and resilient human resources and contribute significantly to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The stakeholders made the call during a Regional Learning Programme on Multisectoral Nutrition Project, organized by the USAID Advancing Nutrition Ghana in partnership with the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council in Bolgatanga.
Hajia Alima Sagito Saeed, a Consultant for USAID Advancing Nutrition Ghana, explained that nutrition was significant for the growth and development of children, underscoring the urgent need for major stakeholders such as the Assemblies, to ensure that nutritional security was a topmost priority.
Hajia Saeed who is also the Director for Savannah Women Integrated Development Agency, Tamale, explained that statistics available suggested that malnutrition among children in Ghana was still high and worse in the Northern sector.
She said there were records of stunted growth and malnutrition related diseases in children and called for pragmatic policies to be implemented to reverse the nutritional insecurity, “otherwise the country would produce children who would contribute little to the advancement of their respective societies”, she added.
She said the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda was a long term initiative which would be fully realized when children had the necessary nutrients to ensure proper growth and development.
Hajia Saeed therefore suggested to Assemblies to view issues of nutrition as building blocks and invest strategically to carry out activities to create awareness on nutrition to change behaviour, improve agriculture production and empower people especially women economically to build resilient livelihoods.
Mr Stephen Yakubu, the Upper East Regional Minister in a speech read on his behalf by Alhaji Mohammed Issahaku, the Bawku Municipal Coordinating Director, disclosed that malnutrition continued to be a big challenge in the region although there were considerable efforts by government to improve the situation.
“In 2014, 19 per cent of children below five years in Ghana were estimated to be stunted, in 2018 the rate of stunting amongst children of the same age was estimated at 18 per cent, unfortunately, for the Upper East Region, 14 per cent of children below five years were estimated to be stunted in 2014 and this increased to 18 per cent in 2018,” he added.
Mr Yunus Abdulai, the Chief of Party, USAID Advancing Nutrition Ghana, said the project was implemented in 17 districts across four regions in Northern, North East, Upper East and Upper West Regions, to coordinate and strengthen multisectoral collaboration, develop food security and nutrition guidance and tools in the MTDPs of the Assemblies.
The Chief of Party who said the project was being implemented in Bawku Municipal, Bawku West, Garu and Tempane Districts, noted that it was to improve on the nutrition status of Ghanaians.
“USAID Advancing Nutrition will provide technical support and assessment services to advance the Government of Ghana’s efforts to improve district planning for equitable delivery of services that promote household resilience and early childhood growth and development,” he added.