The Wa West District in the Upper West Region is still recording high cases of acute malnutrition in the region with the Poyentanga sub-district being the worst affected. The Sub-district alone recorded 281 out of 1,266 cases of malnutrition from 2011 to mid-2018. This means that for every five malnourished children, one is from the Poyentanga sub-district.
Health experts have warned that if stringent measures are not put in place to address the problem, it could become worse in the coming years. To reverse the trend, a 17-member committee has been put in place to help address the problem.
Speaking at the inauguration of the committee at Poyentanga, a Policy Officer of the Ghana Trade and Livelihood Coalition (GTLC) Emmanuel Wullingdool said the committee is expected to use a community led approach to educate residents in the district on the need to eat healthy and balanced meals saying “the committee that we are putting together is not to replace what they health centres are doing, but to complement their efforts in terms of identifying the cases and referring them to the centre. They are also to document whatever they find and use that as an evidence so that they can engage with the District Assembly.”
Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and or nutrients. Children under five are mostly affected by malnutrition.
The Ghana Trade and Livelihood Coalition with support from the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) under the Voice for Change Partnership project is helping the Wa West district to address malnutrition which is very high in the area.
This is done by educating residents on how to use the animals they rear and the crops they cultivate to prepare nutritious meals.
Mr. Wullingdool said GTLC is employing other advocacy strategies in the Wa West District in a bid to “increase food and nutrition security and incomes of small holder farmers, especially women. We hope to achieve this through sustained engagement with government and the private sector to improve service delivery.”
The District Nutrition Officer Simon Awini said his outfit has intensified promotion on exclusive breastfeeding as well as the Infant and Young Child Feeding formula. He expressed hope that the new committee will work together with his office to address malnutrition.
The Regional Women in Agriculture Development (WIAD) Officer Madam Elizabeth Kutina encouraged families to eat what they grow explaining that “we produce the maize, we produce the groundnuts, the cowpea and we have the food trees. All these things when we eat them, it will give us the nutrition we need.” She added that “food is health, it is not medicine and so when we eat the food that we grow, we will get the balanced meals that we want”.
Madam Kutina was insistent on the need to give special care to pregnant and lactating mothers as well as children under five. This, she said is to ensure the children grow healthily.
The DCE for Wa West Edward Labiir Sabo pledged the Assmebly’s support to the committee. The durbar was attended by the chiefs and people of Poyentanga.
Story by Emmanuel Mensah-Abludo & Mark Smith