Health News of Tuesday, 18 September 2012
It is projected that about 9,000 pregnant Ghanaian women would die by the year 2020, if the high anaemia levels amongst them persist.
It is also estimated that 20 per cent of the country’s disturbing maternal mortality ratio of 451 per 100,000 live births is caused by this health condition.
The Deputy Chief Nutrition Officer of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Ms. Esi Amoaful, announced these at a media discussion in Kumasi.
The event that was organized by the GHS with support from the United States Agency for International Development, on the theme: “Build the future, invest in nutrition now,” provided the platform to highlight the need to scale up investment in nutrition interventions.
Ms. Amoaful said statistics from the Ghana Demographic Health Survey show that prevalence of anaemia among pregnant women shot up from 65 per cent to 70 per cent between the period of 2003 and 2008.
She said eight in every 10 children under the age of five years are also anaemic, a slight increase from the about seven in 10 children, in year 2003.
Ms. Amoaful said despite the great strides being made by the nation to improve health and the economy, available data indicated to a specter of under-nutrition.
She said poor nutrition, resulting from deficiencies of particularly vitamin “A” and iodine, reportedly contributes to about half of all child deaths beyond early infancy, making it a major contributor to child mortality.
Ms. Amoaful said every year 12,000 children die because their “weight is too low for their age”.
She said between 2011 and 2020, it is estimated that there could be as high as 97,000 deaths of children below five years of age, through stunting alone.
Ms. Amoaful said to help make things better, there the need for optimal breastfeeding, appropriate complementary feeding, vitamin “A” supplementation, iron-folate supplements for pregnant and lactating women, salt iodization and fortification of staple foods.
She said additionally, there should be improved production, availability and consumption of diversified food, treatment of severe malnutrition with special foods such as ready-to-use therapeutic food and prevention of chronic under-nutrition.
Ms. Amoaful called for strong political leadership and commitment to ensure that health, nutrition and agriculture-related programmes addressed causes of under-nutrition and incorporated into the plans of the relevant ministries.