Treat nutrition as a health, education, development, and economic issue – Prof. Tortoe


Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH

Director of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research-Food Research Institute (CSIR-FRI), Prof. Charles Tortoe, has called on the public to treat nutrition as a health, educational, developmental, and economic issue.

According to him, the government of Ghana, development agencies, foundations, civil society groups, businesses, and the research community have started prioritising nutrition as a health, education, development, and economic issue.

Prof. Tortoe, addressing participants at a two-day Nutrition Education Strategies for Improving Nutrition and Health workshop under the Healthy Food Africa (HFA) project in Accra, explained that effective nutrition education is a key strategy for sustainable impact.

He noted further that it empowers local people to take better control of how they are nourished. “No longer are nutrition programmes seen just as a response to people in need; they are now part of proactive support for people’s equitable and inclusive economic development with an emphasis on realising their human rights.”

Speaking in an exclusive interview with GBC Ghana Online on the sidelines to throw more light on the two-day Nutrition Education Strategies for Improving Nutrition and Health workshop, currently, ongoing in Accra, a Research Fellow at the CSIR-FRI and Accra Food System Lab (FSL) Team Leader, Dr. Jolene Nyako, said that the main objective of the workshop is to bring relevant stakeholders in the food supply chain together to discuss in detail the planned interventions for the Accra Food System Lab, more specifically the nutrition education and awareness interventions.

She noted that as different stakeholders align their actions to support the achievement of national nutrition plans, there is a need to co-design and co-create educational messages and programmes that are user-friendly and apply local and indigenous knowledge. All nutrition activities and plans should reflect the interests of people and the combined efforts of different sectors.

Workshops like this, increasingly seek to implement in synergy and emphasise mutual accountability on sustainable nutritional outcomes through nutrition education. Dr. Nyako added.

“There are some things that we recommend as scientists after various projects that people stop implementing because it’s not adapted to the indigenous situation.

So here what we are trying to do in the next two days is to look at what are the systems that are the best practices that are currently being practised among the critical actors in Ghana and see how we can synchronise their efforts and make sure that our recommendations to the populace conform to their needs.

Again to ensure that advice and recommendations given are aligned with Ghana’s nutrition action plans and is also synchronised to effect that different artists give same educative, informative and authentic information on nutrition, at all times,” She maintained.

Dr. Nyako explained that in a baseline survey conducted, it was realised that some people look at food from the three different food groups while others people look at it from the six food groups and sometimes this happens during a public discussion with persons within the food sector.

They will have conflicting ideas, one day someone says sugar is good for you, and another sugar is not good for one’s health. So even as scientists, we are giving different information to different sectors of the environment and people don’t know who to believe. So we have to consolidate our efforts and consolidate the kind of information that we are sending out there. She reiterated.

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