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Nutritious meal accelerates child growth, development – Mrs. Bernice Abbequaye

Children suffering under-nutrition remain a major public health problem confronting many low and middle-income countries including Ghana with the high proportion of the children less than five years being under-nourished.

Mrs. Bernice Abbequaye, CEO of Blessed Child Foods in Kaneshi, Accra has disclosed that specific nutrients are vital to thrive the growth of babies since breast milk cannot solely survive their life.

Babies at their infant stages need to develop healthy bones, resisting immune system which can fight and protect diseases. Cognitive and other domains of human development rely heavily on the initial care and feeding of a child.

According to nutritionists, food substances such tom brown, mashed kontomire with fish powder, mashed potatoes, rice and margarine, weanimix, soya beans, cereals, rice porridge, water melon, banana, pawpaw, etc are good sources of protein, vitamins, calcium, iron, minerals and carbohydrate to children system development.

Mrs. Bernice speaking in an interview with Nana Ama Sarfo on Food Safety,Nutrition and Hygiene, said mothers should feed babies with green leafy vegetables like kontomire ,aleefe, broccoli and ademe which contains iron. Some vegetables are good for child growth and  development; cooked carrots mashed with potatoes for babies, mixed fish powders with mashed yams, soups, stews or mash chicken or cow meat into the foods they eat.

If children lack nutritious meals they become malnourished and suffer from kwashiorkor, dry skin, anemia, thin hair, abnormal weight etc. She advised parents to avoid feeding children with foods that contains pepper.

Over the years, the government of Ghana, in collaboration with her local and international partners has put in place deliberate programs to help curb the menace of under-nutrition among infants and young children in the country

Nutritionists have classed malnutrition by three main indicators of under-nutrition, namely, stunting (too short for age), wasting (too thin for height) and underweight (too light for age).

Ghana has made some gains in the reduction of under-nutrition among children under-five years old. Stunting for instance has decreased among Ghanaian children from 34% in 1993 to 26% (a 23% reduction) by 2008. Although, the decrease is a positive development, the 23% reduction over the period is not good enough for Ghana to be able to meet the target set by the World Health Organization (WHO) that every country should endeavor to reduce childhood stunting by 40% by 2025. Notwithstanding, if this progress continues, Ghana may be able to reduce child under-nutrition to an appreciable level in the near future.

Turning to childhood wasting, this indicator has achieved the modest reduction over the period, decreasing from 15% in 1993 to 13% by 2008 (still high by the WHO standard). This is worrying, especially for the fact that children who are wasted are at higher risk of dying. As the problem of child mortality in the country may not be solved if childhood wasting is not addressed head-on.

Although, the picture with regards to stunting and wasting is not as bright as expected, underweight appears to paint a good picture of the country’s effort at reducing under-nutrition.   Underweight among Ghanaian children has significantly decreased, from 25% to 15% (a 60% reduction) in a period of 15 years. This means that in 2008, Ghana has achieved the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target set for all developing countries to reduce underweight by half by 2015. This is absolutely a positive development for Ghana, however, more efforts are still needed to maintain this achievement or further improve on it.

Source: Nana Ama Sarfo/ritefmonline.org/amasarfo297@gmail.com

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