Dr Fred Adomako-Boateng, the Bono East Regional Director of Ghana Health Service (GHS) has commended World Vision Ghana‘s (WVGs) efforts in enhancing feeding practices through the Improved Feeding Practices for the First 1000 Days Project.
He emphasised the improved feeding practices played a crucial role in the growth and development of every child, saying it extended beyond mere food availability, but included access to quality healthcare, health and nutrition education and social support among other factors.
The Project's objective was to promote better feeding practices among 5,520 targeted women of reproductive age (including pregnant and lactating mothers) and 4,900 children under two years old in three districts – Kassena-Nankana and Sekyere East in the Upper East and Ashanti Regions respectively and Kintampo South.
The Project's implementation began in September 2020 and is expected to end in August 2023, covering 70 communities across the three districts with 21 beneficiary communities in Kintampo South.
Within the period of implementation, the Project distributed different resources which included more than 5,000 poultry birds, 34,000 sweet potato vines, 2,000 pawpaw seedlings and 3,000 mango seedlings to support approximately 340 farmers in the project communities.
Besides, the Project provided training on feeding practices, access to nutritional supplements like Kokoplus, delivery of nutrition messages, promotion of dietary diversity, growth monitoring, safeguarding and grievance redress mechanisms.
Some partners including Mother-to-Mother Support Groups, Male Champions, Agriculture Extension Agents, Community Health Workers, and Village-Based Entrepreneurs (VBEs) were involved in this initiative.
As part of the project's efforts to enhance health services, 33 electric weighing scales were supplied to the Ghana Health Service with additional 66 Infantometers, 10 Micro cuvettes, eight Hemocues, 166 anthropometric equipment pieces such as weighing scales, weighing pants and slings provided to the District Health Directorate.
The Directorate again received 100 bicycles distributed to community health volunteers and adolescents in basic schools who served as peer educators on nutrition.
According to Dr Adomako-Boateng, the exclusive breastfeeding rate showed improvement in Kintampo South and the region as it increased from 75.0 per cent to 83.8 per cent in the former and 83.0 per cent to 84.5 per cent in the latter.
He said there was also a significant reduction in underweight cases in Kintampo South as the rate decreased from 2.3 per cent to 0.76 per cent while in the region it decreased from 0.84 per cent to 0.22 per cent.
Dr Adomako-Boateng said the number of children assessed for stunting also witnessed substantial increases in Kintampo South because it rose from 18,723 to 30,799 whereas in the region it increased from 134,516 to 246,507.
He said 728 individuals including 62 Village Based Entrepreneurs (VBEs) received capacity-building training, explaining that the VBVEs were trained in basic business skills.
This training Dr Adomako-Boateng said aimed to enhance the trainees' ability to provide access to innovative nutritional supplements for mothers and caregivers of children under two years of age.
He added the VBES successfully sold 58,136 nutritional supplements (Koko plus) for the benefit of 3,277 children under two years.
Dr Adomako-Boateng urged stakeholders to continue with their efforts to sustain the achievements of the Project, since he noted more work needed to be done to improve the nutrition and well-being of women in reproductive age, pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children below two years.
Madam Selina Dussei, a representative of the Ministry of Health and Chairperson of the National Steering Committee of the Project expressed her satisfaction with the achievements of the Project, saying the valuable knowledge, experiences and lessons learned during the Project's period would continue to benefit the people.
Madam Afia Asokua Ofori, Kintampo South District Director of Agriculture emphasised the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals Two and Three which aimed to eradicate hunger, ensure food security, promote sustainability in agriculture and improve overall well-being for people of all ages.
Madam Ofori assured the Directorate of Agriculture would play continue to play an essential role in strengthening beneficiary groups to enable them to become effective agents of change towards achieving the goals set forth.