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Health News of Thursday, 31 March 2016

Source: GNA

More embrace UNICEF support child-feeding interventions

Hundreds of nursing mothers in most communities in the Volta Region have accepted to do exclusive breastfeeding and observe good nutrition practices to control stunted growth in children and pregnant women.

The development follows the UNICEF supported introduction of locally engineered programmes to fight child malnutrition, stunted growth and boost nutrition in pregnant women.

Mr David Tekpor, North Dayi District Nutrition Officer, told the Ghana News Agency that activities carried out included child welfare clinic, mentoring visits, administration of vitamin A supplements, using salt test kits to test salt at households and nutrition assessment counselling to TB and HIV and AIDS cases.

He said officials had covered all the 65 communities in the district while the underweight rate had been cut to 2.8 percent in addition to reaching out to 37.5 percent of 1,806 pregnant women targeted and 36 percent of 3,162 children projected.

“I refused to practice exclusive breastfeeding and told my friends not to do so, to me it was wicked to feed a baby with only breast milk for six months but with the education from the counsellors I now practice it myself,” a community health nurse said in Jordan, a community in North Dayi.

“My child is four years old, but he looks like somebody who is seven or more years and he is very intelligent and performs well in school,” Mrs Hilda Katso said.

Mary Tokuat Hodzo, 34, of Ho West, said after having a pre-term baby, seven months after pregnancy, she lost hope about her baby's chances of survival until a community nurse counsellor intervened and with the mother-to-mother support.

“I delivered alone in my room when I was seven months pregnant, I thought my baby was dead, but no it wasn’t, after that people said my baby will not survive, so I went to see this nurse and she was often visiting me and advising me on how to feed my baby, my baby is now 11 months and is very healthy,” she said.

“Nutrition is fundamental to development and how we nourish our children determine how strong we are, it improves children’s brains, the impact is important during young age,” Ms Ngongi said.

“The twin brother of nutrition is sanitation, and I am happy both good nutrition and sanitation practices are being observed here, the progress is very encouraging,” she said.

Madam Lillian Selenje, a nutrition specialist with UNICEF Ghana, said the problem of malnutrition, stunting and anaemia in the country was a serious one which needed a clear policy direction and a national action plan and strategies to tame it.

“The Ghana government will have to develop a policy on nutrition, make it a priority and come out with an action plan to control stunting and anaemia,” she said.

“We still have a significant number of children who are still stunted, we are talking about over two million children who die and these are preventable,” she said.

“There are also a significant number who are malnourished, about 10,000 children are severely malnourished but this number could be high, maybe about 40,000,” she said.