Ghana records increased cases of malnutrition, obesity — GHS
There is an increasing incidence of malnutrition, poor child growth, micronutrient deficiencies, adult overweight and obesity in the country, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, has said.
He said wide disparities persisted in malnutrition rates across the regions, locations and wealth quintiles and, therefore, stressed the need for comprehensive interventions to address those complex and varied challenges.
"Wasting has unfortunately seen a concerning increase and high rates of anaemia persist among children, women and adolescents despite some recorded reductions.
“It is worth noting that in certain regions, rural areas and poor urban areas, the pace of reducing malnutrition, particularly anaemia and stunting, has been slow and uneven.
This challenge, compounded by the emerging problem of over-nutrition, indicates that the country is grappling with multiple facets of malnutrition,” the D-G said.
He, however, said some progress had been made in reducing underweight, anaemia and stunting in children, as well as improvement in early initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding rates.
Dr Kuma-Aboagye was speaking at a closeout event on advancing nutrition learning organised by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
The project provides technical support to advance the government effort at improving planning and delivery of services to promote household resilience and early childhood growth and development in 55 districts across five regions.
The project, which commenced in 2020, also aims at strengthening coordination mechanisms, improving nutrition planning and integration into development plans, addressing the lack of tools
for nutrition planning and integration, and addressing the underlying causes of malnutrition.
Ghana is among 12 countries in Africa that is benefiting from the project.
The Mission Director of USAID, Kimberly Rosen, said while the country had made some progress in the area of health over the past decades, the nutritional status of children under five still remained a concern.
Quoting the 2022 Demographic Health Survey, she said it revealed that the rate of wasting (low weight for height) increased from five per cent in 2014, to six per cent in 2022, while stunting (low height for age) was 18 per cent as compared to 19 per cent in 2014.
She said stunting remained high particularly in the northern regions, peaking at 30 per cent in the Northern Region and 29 per cent in the North East Region.
“Poor nutrition has many adverse consequences for child survival and long-term well-being. It also has far-reaching consequences for human capital, economic productivity and national development overall,” the Mission Director added.
Ms Rosen said the US was committed to supporting the government achieve its health and nutrition objectives, including building a more resilient, productive and inclusive society.
The Chief of Party, USAID Advancing Nutrition Ghana, Selorme Kofi Azumah, said under the project, more than 5,700 health workers received training and supportive supervision to improve nutrition service delivery.
He said it also supported the GHS to reach more than 250,000 children under five and about 120,000 pregnant women with nutrition services, among other interventions.