First Lady Calls For Improvement In Nutritional Needs of Pregnant Women
The First Lady, Dr. Mrs. Ernestina Naadu Mills called for an improvement in the nutritional and health needs of pregnant women in an effort to reduce malnutrition, and especially stunted growth in their children.
Stunting growth occurs when children do not get appropriate nutrients and food to eat, especially during the first two years of life causing them to become stunted adults.
She made the call at the launch of Scale up Nutrition (SUN) programme, an initiative of the United Nations to offer pregnant women the need to eat nutritious meals during pregnancy and afterwards.
The SUN Initiative emphasises on the importance of improving nutrition from pregnancy to two years of age or the first 1,000 days of life.
Under the initiative, from pregnancy mothers would be educated on the importance of taking the right nutrients until their babies are two years of age in order to prevent malnutrition among children, especially stunted growth.
“Fighting stunted growth would mean fighting the inability of the child to think, as stunted growth is associated with decreased ability to think and learn resulting in reduced school performance, "Mrs Naadu Mills added.
The First Lady noted that about 50 per cent of deaths in children in developing countries including Ghana were attributed to malnutrition, adding “These malnutrition problems could have serious consequence on the health and survival of those affected, with the attendant non-communicable disease in later life”.
She called for concerted efforts in dealing with the high mortality rate of 80 per 1,000 live births among children under five years, and high maternal mortality ratio of 451 per 100,000 live births.
Mrs Naadu Mills noted that in Ghana, one out of every three children was suffering from stunted growth and nearly six out of every 10 women of childbearing were anaemic.
“It is worrying that this same environment presents increasing levels of over nutrition with nearly every other woman of child bearing age in Greater Accra Region overweight.”
She intimated that Vitamin A deficiency affected about 75 per cent of the country’s under five population and contributed to one out of every three of all child deaths between the ages of six and 59 months.
“This means that, the estimated health consequence between 2011 and 2020 includes a total of 110,000 child deaths attributable to Vitamin A deficiency alone.”
Mrs Naadu Mills noted that with the appropriate interventions, the lives of half a million children could be saved from various forms of mental retardation over the time period of 2011 to 2020.
She commended Ghana for the adoption of the SUN Initiative, because it would play a critical role in bringing together organisations across all sectors to support national plans to scale up nutrition by helping to ensure that financial and technical resources were accessible.
Dr George Amofa, Acting Director, Ghana Health Services, noted that undernourished children were more likely to die of illnesses such as malaria, diarrhoea and complications from HIV and AIDS, than children who were not malnourished.
“Also one in forty-eight women in Ghana is at risk of dying from causes related to pregnancy or child birth; and one in five of those deaths is related to iron deficiency anaemia”, he added.
Dr Amofa called for more investment in nutritive measures as they could save 30,000 lives by preventing overweight and prevent permanent brain damage in 500,000 children by decreasing iodine deficiency in the next 10 years.
There were solidarity messages from Community Health Nurses Group, religious leaders, Civil Societies, Ministries, Department and Agencies and the Parliamentary Causes on Hunger and Nutrition on helping with the smooth implementation of the SUN Initiative.