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Health News of Friday, 21 May 2021

Source: GNA

First Lady calls for action to tackle malnutrition

First lady Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo First lady Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo

The First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has called for pragmatic solutions to tackling the significant numbers of hungry, obese and micro-nutrient deficient people in the country.

She said even though there had been progress in tackling malnutrition in children, there were still challenges to overcome.

“We still have significant numbers of stunted and wasted children. We also have a worrying number of overweight women, men and women of reproductive age who are anaemic. Unless we take immediate concrete action, poor diets will continue to hamper Ghana’s human and overall national development,” she said.

“Access to safe, affordable and healthy diets is a basic necessity of life. Not acting simply means we are condemning a large portion of our population to misery and death. We are also toying with our national development agenda, if we fail to act now.”

Mrs Akufo-Addo said COVID-19 had exposed the weakness of global food systems including that of Ghana, and it was time to build a resilient system, which could withstand shocks.

Presenting the keynote address at the virtual launch of Ghana's inception meeting in preparation towards the UN Food Systems Summit dialogue on the theme: "Towards Resilience for Improved Food Security and Nutrition," the First Lady said: “We need to build those robust systems that are needed despite our progress made so far.”

The meeting was convened by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), and would be followed by a series of other meetings on food systems in Ghana.

Mrs Akufo-Addo described the inception meeting as a platform to build those robust systems and called for a collective action of all stakeholders for a strong inter-sectoral linkage and cooperation.

She said such collaboration would generate innovative forward-thinking intervention to challenge existing policy framework.

"It is my prayer that all key stakeholders will get the opportunity to participate in all the dialogues. I trust these dialogues will generate innovative forward-thinking intervention, to challenge existing policy framework in order to improve nutrition and promote healthy diets."

The First Lady expressed concern over some statistics concerning global food systems, saying, some were simply disturbing.

“Sitting here listening to the context for this meeting has certainly been an eye-opener. We are looking at significant numbers of hungry, obese and micro–nutrient-deficient people.”

She said if care was not taken, achieving the SDG-2 Zero Hunger by 2030 would not be attainable, adding that neither “are we on course to meeting the Global Nutrition Targets by 2025.”

Food system is said to comprise a range of interrelated activities that take place from farm to table. Developing a resilient food system, therefore, requires the collective action of all stakeholders.

Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, said the summit dialogues had been recommended by the UN General Secretary to afford the opportunity to review the ailing food systems with the view of transforming them to feed and nourish populations sustainably and contribute to the achievement of the SDGs.

“The national dialogues will bring together all persons, especially value chain actors, researchers, policymakers, experts and all who are affected in the way we produce, process, distribute and consume our food, to stock of progress so far in transforming our food system and together chart ways of improving it”.

Dr Kodjo Mensah-Abrampa, the Director-General, National Development Planning Commission, said the dialogue would afford the opportunity to raise awareness and elevate the public discourse on how to reform Ghana’s food systems.

“…Pathways at the end process will be integrated into the next Medium-Term National Development Policy Framework, which is currently under preparation,” he said.

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