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8,133 Child deaths associated with under-nutrition

Aug. 3, 2016, 9:41 a.m.

The deaths of an estimated 8,133 children under-five in Ghana are associated with under-nutrition.

The figure represents 24% of all child mortality cases in Ghana.

These deaths reduce Ghana’s workforce by 7.3 % annually.

Ghana Health Service data indicates that the child mortality for 2015 was 33,886.

These statistics were contained in the Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA) report which was released yesterday.

Other findings in the report show that Ghana loses GH¢4.6 billion a year to the effects of under-nutrition.

The report also indicates that Ghana loses 6.4% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) every year to the effects of under-nutrition among children.

The report showed that Ghana loses a vast amount of the figure through healthcare costs, additional burdens on the education system and lower productivity by its workforce.

Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) focal person in Ghana, at the launch of the report, said the issues of nutrition has become politically irrelevant due to its invisibility, and even when the investment are made, the results do not manifest immediately, unlike investments like schools and hospitals.

 He said ensuring the nutritional status of children is a key step for inclusive development in Ghana.

The report, he said, clearly shows that hunger has an adverse effect on national economy beyond the known impacts at an individual and community level.

Dr Nii Moi Thompson, the Director-General of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC),  in a speech read on his behalf, stated that Ghana is not only poised to deal with its own challenges in eliminating malnutrition, but to offer the leadership expected from her, working through membership of Scaling Up Nutrition movement.

He noted that it is the expectation of the NDPC that all partners and the general public will be mobilised to rally behind the fight against hunger and malnutrition.

The study is being implemented in various African countries following a call by Heads of States in Malabo.

Mr Thomas Yanga, Director, World Food Programme (WFP), said under-nutrition magnifies the effects of diseases in children, affects their educational performances, causes child mortality and, in the long term, affects the productivity of a nation.

He commended the Government of Ghana for the great strides it has made in reducing child under-nutrition, from 34% in the 1990s to 19% in 2010.

Mr Yanga thanked the Government of Ghana for recognising the usefulness of the study and supporting its implementation as he expressed his profound gratitude to the dedication and work of the implementation teams: the NDPC and the WFP.

The key objective of the launch is to share the results of the study, which estimates the socio-economic cost of inaction on child under-nutrition in Ghana and seek the support of key government agencies and the public to dialogue on how to address child nutrition, best practices for scaling up of proven interventions, and indentify areas of collaboration among various sectors and partners.

The result of the study is to bring attention to issues that often become invisible in national priorities.