23
Aug 2013
Ms Ursula Owusu, Member of Parliament for Ablekuma South, yesterday said it is important for Ghanaians to ensure the implementation of the six- month exclusive breastfeeding policy.  

She said the nation needs to grant paternity leave to fathers and give nursing mothers the opportunity to work half day as well; as such alternatives could make the six month exclusive breastfeeding policy practicable.

The World Health Organisation and the Ghana Health Service (GES) are advocating the policy that enables nursing mothers to give breast milk on demand for the first six months to ensure exclusive breast feeding.

 

Ms Owusu made the comments at the forum to discuss a National Nutrition Policy organised by the Ghana Coalition of Civil Society Organisations for Scaling Up Nutrition (GHACCSUN).

She said: "As a country we need to invest into the future of our children if we are to ensure that they have good health."
Ms Owusu said it is important that parents start teaching their children about the importance of balanced nutrition at a tender age.

She also expressed the need for the nation to ensure food safety and urged monitoring organisations to check the health of food vendors since some of them end up selling diseases to their unsuspecting patrons.

The GHACCSUN a group of non- governmental organisations concerned about improving nutrition in the country is working to make nutrition a priority development issue.

The forum brought together members of the coalition, parliament and health professionals to solicit new ideas and recommendations on how the new national nutrition policy should be implemented.

It also aimed at increasing the coverage of high impact nutrition specific interventions that would ensure optimal nutrition for Ghanaians.

Mrs Wilhelmina Okwabi, Director, Nutrition Department, GHS, said major challenges persist regarding breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices in Ghana.

She said 45.9 per cent of infants benefited from early breastfeeding which showed a decline from the 52.3 per cent in2006.

"Similarly there has been a decline in the rate of exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months from 62.8 per cent in 2008 to 46 per cent in 2011," she said.

Mrs Okwabi explained that rather, bottle feeding babies below six months which was being discouraged, had increased from 11 per cent in 2008 to 18 per cent in 2011.

She said even more problematic is the high rate of sub-optimal complementary feeding that requires that breastfed childrenbe given two or more meals of solid, semi-solid or soft nutrients dense food rich in iron and vitamins.

She advised health professionals to educate families to enable them be in charge of their health in terms of nutrition.

Mrs Okwabi said the National Nutrition Policy also aims at prioritising nutrition so as to generate interest and demand adequate food and nutrition security among policy makers and Ghanaians.

She said the health of Ghanaians and the economic development of the country are closely linked hence the need to ensure that the citizenry have access to adequate nutrition.

Nana Ayim Poakwah, Coordinator of GHACCSUN, said investing in nutrition could improve several key development outcomes in Ghana, which include child survival, educational achievements and ultimately more economic productivity.

He said GHACCSUN is committed to work to change the unacceptable child nutrition indicators in the country especially the prevalence rate of stunting, wasting and anaemia.

Stunting means being too short for one's age, while wasting means being too thin for one's age.

The Coalition said high rates of stunting persist in the regions reaching as high as 34.7 per cent in Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions.

Source: GNA