Ghana’s First lady, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo has been named Nutrition Champion for Ghana by the Co-founders and eminent leaders of the high-level African Leaders for Nutrition initiative.
Mrs. Akufo-Addo who is also founder of the Rebecca Foundation joins President of Madagascar, Hery Rajaonarimampianina of Lesotho, King Letsie and Acting CEO of HarvestPlus, Dr. Howarth Bouis, as the 2018, Nutrition Champions.
President John Agyekum Kufuor, who is the Founder of the JAKF, in an inaugural address, said the need for the inauguration of a Nutrition Champion, had become crucial owing to the country’s current triple burden of malnutrition, especially among children under five years, and also pregnant women and the adolescent.
He said the choice of the First Lady, was in collaboration with international bodies including the African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN) initiative, spearheaded by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Global Panel for Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition and the World Food Programme (WFP), as well as the private and public sectors of the country.
He explained that with the inauguration, Ghana becomes the first on the continent to have a Nutrition Champion as recommended by the Global Panel, and congratulated Mrs Akufo-Addo for her new appointment.
President Kufuor encouraged her to use her office to build upon the project policy for economic transmission through the government’s Planting for Food and Jobs, Ghana’s Severe Hunger Strategy, and the renewed School Feeding Programme.
He indicated that as the Nutrition Champion, the First Lady would also be expected to effectively advocate the excellent evident and recommendations on food systems and diet produced by the African Union (AU) Global Panel, and enable Ghana embed nutrition into existing policies and budgets, through more effective coordination among sectors of national governance.
He cited some of these sectors as agricultural production, food security and safety, trade and industry, social protection, as well as civil society cooperation.
“I believe that her progressive approach and ability to rise to challenges will allow her success, not only in Ghana, but to provide inspiration for other African countries to provide safe, affordable and healthy diet for all”.
Mrs. Akufo-Addo, in her response, quoted statistics from a World Health Organisation, (WHO) report, which showed that seven per cent of children under five years in Africa were wasted (too small in size for their age), while a further 30 per cent were affected by child stunting (too short), largely due to poor diets and inadequate nutrition food systems.
She warned that the consequences of poor diet was grave, as they were recipes for cognitive impairment, which was irreversible and could permanently inhibit children for life, hence the issue of nutrition strikes at the very future of the African continent.
“We are losing about a quarter of the continent’s future potential leaders to malnutrition. This is sad and unacceptable,” adding that, for far too long, the continent had been plagued by images of extremely malnourished children on the verge of death, but eradicating malnutrition would deserve the concerted support of every citizen, “to deal a definitive blow to malnutrition in Africa.”
“It is important that, together we build a wave of political support and investment throughout the continent, to promote nutrition and end malnutrition,” and this could be done through the strengthening of accountability and investments towards good diet and proper nutrition.
She said eliminating malnutrition was achievable, however, it would also require the building of a broad base of support, collaboration and coordination with sister initiatives on nutrition, and the harmonisation of existing interventions to accelerate progress, in order to avoid the trap of reinventing the wheel.
Mrs. Akufo-Addo expressed gratitude to the African Leaders for the Nutrition initiative, and for choosing her as a Nutrition Champion.
According to the First Lady, “The time has come for us to deal a definitive blow to malnutrition in #Africa”.
Other solidarity messages were given by representatives from institutions including the AfDB, the Global Panel for Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, the World Food Programme (WFP), as well as the Ministries of Planning, Health, Food and Agriculture and the Gender, Children and Social Protection respectively, who pledged their sustained support towards the course of eliminating the country’s nutritional challenges.
The African Leaders for Nutrition Initiative leverages on the voices of its high-level Champions to amplify and elevate nutrition on the continent.
The initiative’s efforts are guided by the African Leaders for Nutrition Champions ALN while strategic advice to the ALN secretariat is provided by a group of renowned experts and advisors from diverse sectors.
— African Development Bank Group (@AfDB_Group) December 17, 2018