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USAID project to address malnutrition in Northern Ghana ends

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A project known as USAID Advancing Nutrition Ghana has successfully concluded its activities in some 55 Metropolitan, Municipal, and District assemblies of the Upper East, Upper West, North East, and Northern regions. The 3-year project aimed to improve nutrition outcomes among vulnerable populations, particularly women and children, through evidence-based interventions. 

The project worked closely with local organisations and government agencies to implement a range of activities to support nutrition interventions in line with Ghana’s national nutrition and development planning policy and USAID multi sectoral nutrition strategy. 

Maureen Malave, Nutrition and Social Protection Team Lead at the United States Agency for International Development in Ghana expressed worry that the nutritional status of children under five in Ghana remains a concern despite the progress the country has made in the area of health over the past decades. 

Regardless, she said the project has made some significant gains to improve the rate of stunting and wasting through training health workers on nutrition screening and counselling, promoting exclusive breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices, supporting nutrient-rich foods to pregnant women and children, and raising awareness about the importance of a balanced diet.

“Over 250,000 children nationwide including 46,000 children under five in the Upper East and 120,000 women nationwide, 24,000 women in the Upper East were reached with nutrition services such as monthly growth monitoring and promotion through our support to the Ghana Health Service. More than 5,000 health workers nationwide and 1500 in the Upper East were trained in nutrition service delivery including promoting infant and young child feeding anaemia prevention and control and community management of acute malnutrition”

Ms. Malave said the project also worked with the National Developments and Planning Commission to develop guidelines for food and nutrition security and trained staff at regional and district levels on these guidelines for them to incorporate food and nutrition security into their Medium-Term Development Plans.

“Specifically, we provided technical and logistical support to 17 districts in northern Ghana in developing those plans, these 17 districts now have increased food focus on food and nutrition security issues with the number of nutrition-related activities increasing from 48 in the last Medium Term Development Plan to 141 in the current one”, she indicated.

Ms. Malave who made these disclosures during a regional closeout learning event for the Upper East Region, held at Bolgatanga, said the United States is committed to supporting nutrition activities in Ghana which will now continue through the resilience in northern Ghana or RING II project.

 The stakeholder engagement to take stock of the implementation of the USAID Advancing Nutrition Ghana project was under the theme “Deepening the Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Agenda: The USAID Advancing Nutrition Story”.

The project also supported women in beneficiary communities to establish Village Savings and Loans Associations (VLSAs) to improve household food and nutrition security by making them financially independent. In the Upper East Region, Garu, Tempane, Bawku West districts, and the Bawku Municipality were covered in the project. 

Stephen Yakubu, the Upper East Regional Minister who officially closed the project in the region commended USAID Ghana Mission for the interventions in the region.

“As we celebrate the successes, let us be mindful of the challenges and work together to sustain the gains made by USAID Advancing Nutrition and all other interventions in our respective areas of jurisdiction”

According to the minister, the formation of the District Nutrition Coordination Committees (DNCCs) and the efforts made to integrate them into the District and Regional Planning Coordinating Units meetings “has improved the working relations among the staff of the District Health Management Teams and the MMDAs” 

Pascal Dongzuing, Deputy Director of Administration at the Upper East Regional Health Directorate on behalf of the incoming Regional Health Director said malnutrition in the region has been a challenge to which the USAID Advancing Nutrition Ghana has contributed immensely in the area.

“It is worth mentioning that through the support of the project, all pregnant women have the maternal and child health record books in the four districts of the project operation. This has tremendously improved service delivery and documentation. There has also been an improvement in staff capacity to render quality nutritional service to clients”

Naba Baba Salifu Lemyaarum Atamale, the Paramount Chief for the Bongo Traditional Area who chaired the program thanked USAID, the government of Ghana for the significant contributions to reducing malnutrition and its related cases in the Upper East Region.

Source: A1Radioonline.com|101.1Mhz|Joshua Asaah|Bolgatanga|Ghana

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