The Upper East Regional Health Directorate has successfully administered multivitamin supplements to 65,208 adolescent girls to boost their immune system against iron deficiency
The GIFTS programme was piloted in four regions of the country, including the Upper East Region, by the GHS with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organisation (WHO), the Canadian Government, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the Ghana Education Service (GES).
The intervention, which started in October 2016, is expected to end in 2019. It is aimed at reducing and preventing anaemia by 20 per cent in women of childbearing age and adolescents through weekly iron and folic acid supplementation.
At a stakeholder review meeting held in Bolgatanga, the Upper East Regional Director of Health Services, Dr Winfred Ofosu, said the ongoing programme involved a weekly distribution of Iron and Folic Acid (IFA) supplements to all adolescents aged 10 to 19 every Wednesday, known as “GIFTS Wednesday” across all public junior and senior high schools in the region.
He said the directorate had targeted 97,608 adolescent girls by the end of the programme, but had so far reached out to 65,208, and indicated that the intervention was meant to build the iron and folate stock of the girl child, which would prevent postpartum haemorrhage when they grow into adulthood and are ready for childbirth.
Dr Ofosu indicated
According to him, anaemia reduces the concentration levels in children in the
He expressed optimism that the intervention would help prevent maternal deaths and improve maternal health
Dr Ofosu recalled some misconceptions by parents that the supplements were family planning contraceptives and urged nurses on the field to continue sensitising community members to the purpose and importance of the GIFTS.
A health and nutrition specialist with the UNICEF office in the Northern Region, Dr Priscilla Wobil, said one key intervention of UNICEF was to prevent anaemia in adolescent girls and pregnant women as much as possible, and noted that the focus was on girls, because they stood a higher risk of being anaemic due to menstruation.
She reiterated that anaemia affected the academic performance of adolescent girls, adding that “if they grow and are still anaemic, they could have several complications when they are pregnant’’.
“Some of the problems could be
Dr Wobil noted that bleeding during pregnancy or birth was one of the major complications that resulted in deaths.
“If the mother is already anaemic, it poses a higher risk of death to the mother, so GIFTS is looking at both the health status, the nutritional status and the educational status of the girl child,” she stated.