UNPUBLISHED: civil society organisations for scaling up nutritions launched

Ghana last Thursday  joined 40 other countries across the world to launch the coalition of civil society organisations for scaling up nutrition (SUN).

The local version known as the Ghana Coalition of Civil Society Organisations for Scaling up Nutrition (GHACCSUN) has aims including advocacy on nutrition issues in Ghana and mobilize technical capacity to complement government efforts to reduce malnutrition.

The SUN is a movement founded on the principle that all people have a right to food and good nutrition. It unites people—from governments, civil society, the United Nations, donors, businesses and researchers—in a collective effort to improve nutrition.

Specific interventions proposed under the SUN initiative include support  for exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age and continued breastfeeding, together with appropriate and nutritious food, up to 2 years of age; fortification of foods; micronutrient supplementation; and treatment of severe malnutrition.

The SUN programme is targeting 80 million stunted children across the world.

Across the world, more than 25 per cent of all child deaths are linked to maternal and child under-nutrition.
Available statistics from the Ghana Health Service (GHS) indicate that 12,000 children in Ghana die every year of under-weight related ailments due to malnutrition.

Launching the coalition in Accra on behalf of Ms Ruby Sanhu-Rojon, the UN Resident Coordinator and United Nations Development Representative in Ghana, the Deputy Country Director of the World Food Programme, Magdalene Owusu Moshi said over the next three years, the coalition would be supported by the UN to achieve its objectives.

The UN, she stated would continue to support a strong institutional policy and create awareness about maternal and infant nutrition.

Good nutrition, she stated was a strong foundation for every nation adding that under-nutrition affected people in a permanent way.

In a video message, the UN Special Coordinator of the Movements to SUN, Dr David Nabarro, urged all stakeholders to work in support of country efforts in ways that would contribute to national targets for better nutrition.

In spite of efforts to combat hunger and malnutrition in Ghana, the prevalence of child under-nutrition remains high --23 percent of children under-five have stunted growth and 14 percent are underweight.

That notwithstanding, Ghana is one of the few sub-Saharan African countries that remain on track towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goal(MDG ) one aimed at halving  poverty and hunger by 2015.
But the Coordinator of GHACCSUN, Nana Ayim Poakwa, observed that as much as that was commendable, members of the coalition were concerned that child nutrition indicators had not improved substantially over the past decade.

“High malnutrition rates are closely linked to food insecurity, household poverty levels, the disease burden of malaria and unsatisfactory infant and young child feeding practices.”

“To better the situation, he said “we shall continue to share ground breaking new evidence and be committed to policy and institutional changes to make nutrition a national priority,” he said.

“We shall continue to intensify our advocacy and campaign activities across the country to make government and people of Ghana see the value in investing in nutrition. Good nutrition is a priority for national prosperity, social justice, stability and development.”

Dr Edith Tetteh,  National SUN Focal Person,  as the coalition  tighten its fist for the fight against malnutrition, the only efforts that would yield dividend was for all to serve as ambassadors of good nutrition.
“It is now not about whether a person has eaten but rather whether the person has eaten a balanced diet,” Dr Tetteh who is also the Deputy Chairperson of the National Development Planning Commission said.

For his part, the Co-Chairman of the Ghana Parliammenrarians against Hunger and Manultrition Caucus, said Parliament, in its work would lobby the relevant committes that handle nutrition and nutrition sensitive sectors to demand accountability and commitment from the executive to improve nutrition outcomes in Ghana.
Writer’s email:seth.bokpe@graphic.com.gh

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