At the Annual General Conference & Scientific Meeting (AGSM) of the Paediatric Association of Ghana (PSG’s), held at Ho, in the Volta region, the urgent need for the association to spearhead advocacy efforts and drive reforms in the School Feeding Program took centre stage.

Professor in Clinical Epidemiology at the School of Public Health, University of Health and Allied Sciences, Professor Fred Newton Binka, emphasised the critical role of the PSG in addressing child malnutrition and stunted growth.

He also underscored the detrimental effects of malnutrition on the country’s development trajectory. The theme for the meeting was “The Economic and Social Impact of Child Malnutrition on Ghana’s Long-Term Development.”

The Annual General Conference and Scientific Meeting (AGSM) of the Paediatric Association of Ghana (PSG’s) served as a platform for healthcare professionals, researchers, and policymakers to engage in discussions and exchange ideas on strategies to tackle child malnutrition. The theme for the event was “The Economic and Social Impact of Child Malnutrition on Ghana’s Long Term Development.” 

The theme seeks to foster discussions and prompt action among stakeholders, including healthcare professionals, policymakers, and researchers, towards implementing effective strategies and policies to improve child nutrition outcomes and ultimately contribute to Ghana’s sustainable development goals. 

The President of the Paediatric Association of Ghana, Dr. Hilda Boye, said malnutrition among children is not a mere health issue but a complex challenge that echoes across all facets of society that impedes progress and hinders the realisation of the country’s full potentials. 

She highlighted the importance of evidence-based interventions, multi-sectoral collaboration, and sustainable strategies to address the economic and social impact of child malnutrition on Ghana’s long-term development.

“Your dedication and commitments are a testament of our collective determination to address the issue of child malnutrition and pave the way for a brighter, more prosperous future for the country. Together, let us rise to the challenge and with knowledge, compassion and a steadfast commitment to building a healthier, more equitable society for future generations,” she said.

The Volta Regional Minister, Dr Archibald Letsa, said food insecurity among households in the region has contributed to the growing rate of child malnutrition in the region. According to him, despite efforts by government to address it, the persistent trend underscores the need for urgent, concerted action.

“According to a study done by USAID and published in 2018, the Volta region was one of the 5 regions of greatest concern when it comes to child malnutrition, with about 16% of households being food insecure. Therefore, there is a compelling need for all of us to work together to tackle this problem by preventing malnutrition before it occurs,” he said.

A Director at the External Health Cooperation at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Hafez Adam Taher, said the economic and social cost of child malnutrition in Ghana is worrying. He added that malnutrition contributes to nearly half of all under-5 child deaths in the country. According to him, this translates to a loss of about 6.4% of the country’s GDP.  

Professor in Clinical Epidemiology at the School of Public Health, University of Health and Allied Sciences, Professor Fred Newton Binka, said lack of consumption of proper and well-balanced diet contributes greatly to the menace of child malnutrition.

He highlighted the significance of government’s School Feeding Program in helping to address malnutrition among Ghanaian children. He emphasised the need for reforms to enhance the effectiveness and reach of the program, ultimately contributing to the reduction of stunted growth and other forms of malnutrition. 

While stressing the need for proactive measures to combat malnutrition, Professor Fred Newton Binka, urged the Paediatric Association of Ghana to take a leading role in advocating for policy reforms to improve child nutrition.

“You are soo quiet, no advocacy; you are seeing the children when they visit your clinics and hospitals you complain, but nobody hears about you. Tell the politicians that our children are getting stunted. They need food. If we do that very well, the number of sick children coming to your hospitals will be reduced considerably,” Professor Binka noted.