REPORT ON THE FIRST GHACCSSUN FORUM ON SCALING UP NUTRITION IN GHANA HELD AT BRITISH COUNCIL ON 5TH JUNE, 2013

Globally, it is generally accepted that nutrition security is a human right. It is the basis for economic, social and human development. Good and quality nutrition throughout the life cycle is a pre-requisite to good health, which adds to life and contributes to healthy ageing. A healthy population and productive workforce reinforce sustainable national growth. Optimal nutrition ensures proper development of a child’s brain and body cells, enabling them to grow into productive adults who can contribute to the development of their society. The health and general wellbeing of pregnant women and those in their reproductive years determines the health of the children they bear. Poor nutrition, on the other hand, affects the physical and mental health of a child, predisposes them to weakened resistance to illness throughout their lifetime and inhibits full intellectual ability. Poor nutrition inhibits the populace from flourishing, thus undermining national growth and prosperity.

PANELISTS:

The forum was graced by the presence of the following personalities:

USAID Representative – Ms. Vandana Stapleton

UN REACH Representative – Ms. Victoria Wise (Facilitator)

FAO Country Representative,

Acting Director-General, Ghana Health Service – Dr. Appiah Denkyirah

Founding President, Amen Amen Institute – Amen Amenreynolds Amen

National Development Planning Commission – Mrs. Mary Mpereh

Ghana Health Service (Nutrition Department) – Mrs. Mina Okwabi (Director)

Private Sector Platform Coordinator of SUN– Mr. Emmanuel Quaye (GAIN)

Ministry of Food and Agriculture – Ms. Paulina Addy

OPENING:

The forum was declared open with prayers by Amen Amenreynolds Amen at 1:50pm.

INTRODUCTION OF CHAIRPERSON:

Immediately after the opening ceremony, Ms. Esther Tawiah, Programmes Manager for Gender Centre for Empowering Development, introduced Dr. Edith Tetteh of the National Development Planning Commission as the Chairperson for the occasion.

CHAIRPERSON’S REMARKS:

The Chairperson accepted the honour done her and thanked the organizers of the Forum (GHACCSSUN Secretariat).  She went on to welcome all the stakeholders present and informed them of the purpose of the august gathering.  As a professional in public health, she highlighted the seriousness that the Forum deserves and urged members to put in all their efforts in making sure that the goals of the Forum are achieved.

PRESENTATIONS:

The participants were welcomed by Nana Ayim Poakwah, Coordinator of Ghana Coalition of Civil Society Organizations for SUN. He expressed his appreciation to participants for attending the first CSOs Coalition for SUN Stakeholders’ Forum on Nutrition and told participants that the theme for forum was “Nutrition for Growth: Examining Ghana’s preparedness to scale up nutrition”.  He went on to say that this was indeed remarkable and it again demonstrated the commitment of Organizers and Participants to the fight against hunger and malnutrition in Ghana.  He also thanked the panelists for attending the forum at such a short notice.  He further thanked Save the Children UK for partnering with the CSOs in Ghana to organize this important forum.

His presentation is as stated hereunder:

He told the gathering that Ghana was one of the few Sub-Saharan countries that remained on track towards attainment of Millennium Development Goal One (Halving Poverty and Hunger by 2015) but though commendable, other child nutrition indicators have not improved substantially over the past decade with a record of 23% of children under five stunted.  He indicated that micronutrient deficiencies such as anaemia was high and that high malnutrition rates are closely linked to food insecurity, household poverty levels, the disease burden of malaria, intestinal worms, inadequate sanitation facilities and poor infant and young child feeding practices in Ghana.

He maintained that Ghana is expected to aggressively pursue new initiatives, break new ground and mobilize public support for action to scale up nutrition which in fact, requires developing proven nutrition and nutrition sensitive interventions within a three-year period.  This should also be based on sound, effective legal, policy and institutional framework for a productive scale up.

Dr. Edith Tetteh, Vice Chairperson, NDPC and National SUN Focal Person made the second presentation on behalf of Mrs. Mary Mpereh of NDPC (National SUN Coordinator).  She dealt with the Coordination Mechanisms And Implementation Processes For Scaling Up Nutrition In Ghana. She told participants the role of all sectors in the following direction:

COORDINATION MECHANISM

  • The work of many sectors is important to effectively Scale Up Nutrition given the multiple causes of malnutrition
  • Hence the role of NDPC in coordinating sector plans at multiple levels (district, regional and national levels)
  • Key Sectors are Agriculture, Health, Education, Water and Sanitation, Social Protection and other sectors

ROLE OF SECTORS

  • All the sectors have unique and critical roles
  • Hence the formation of the Cross -Sectoral Planning Group (CSPG) on Nutrition
  • Interventions from various sectors are designed to be nutrition – sensitive through a deliberate planning process to ensure that the nutritionally vulnerable are mainstreamed into the plans

SUB-COMMITTEES UNDER CSPG

  • POLICY
  • RESOURCE MOBILIZATION
  • ADVOCACY
  • CAPACITY BULDING
  • NUTRITION SENSITIVE PLANNING
  • NUTRITION SPECIFIC INTERVENTIONS

MONITORING AND EVALUATION

  • NDPC does not implement but it has a Monitoring and Evaluation Indicators to assess progress of plans implemented at District Levels

After the second presentation, the Member of Parliament for Akrofuom and Co-Chair, Ghana Parliamentarians Against Hunger and Malnutrition Honourable Kwabena Appiah Pinkrah informed members of their contribution towards implementing policies to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in Ghana.  He averred that it was entirely fitting that CSOs Coalition for Scaling up Nutrition in Ghana has chosen this moment to organize this important forum.  He also averred that nutrition is gradually gaining the desired recognition around the world and today’s event reaffirms this growing trend.  He told participants that the consequence of malnutrition is so devastating that failure to act decisively to reverse the trend means they as Politicians and Policy Makers are condemning the vast majority of infants and young children into premature death and avoidable diseases.

The third presentation was delivered by Mrs. Wilhelmina Okwabi, Director, Ghana Health Service Nutrition Department. He shared GHS position as indicated below.

Vision: To ensure that all persons living in Ghana are well nourished.

Goal: To contribute to the reduction in morbidity and mortality through the promotion of healthy diet and lifestyle and   the prevention and control of protein-energy malnutrition (PEM), over-nutrition and its attendant diet related problems, and micronutrient deficiencies.  She again outlined the following objectives all aimed at improving the scaling up of nutrition in Ghana:

  • To improve awareness and knowledge on nutrition issues
  • To improve infant and young child nutrition
  • To promote improved management of malnourished children/persons
  • To prevent/control micronutrient deficiencies (due to iodine, iron and Vitamin A)

This was followed by Ms Vandana Stapleton, USAID/Ghana Family Health Team Leader, who made a full presentation in respect of Donor Commitment to SUN implementation in Ghana in the following areas:

Why should we commit to SUN?

More than one third young children suffer from malnutrition with devastating consequences on health, learning, future earning potential, economic development, resilience and security.

The cognitive and physical damage caused by chronic under nutrition, particularly in the 1000 days between pregnancy and age two, is largely irreversible.

 

Donor commitment to SUN

  • Development partners are aligning behind national plans and policies to scale up nutrition to address this challenge.
  • To enable development partners to do so, Government must ensure that costed, national nutrition plans and policies are in place.
  • National plans must reflect prioritization of food security and nutrition in sectors such health, agriculture, social protection, education, and local development.

Nutrition Donor Landscape in Ghana

She informed the participants that the following are Development Partners supporting the scaling up of nutrition in Ghana:

a)     International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

b)    Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

c)     World Food Programme (WFP)

d)    Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA

e)     Department for International Development (DFID)

f)      United States Agency for International Development USAID)

g)     Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

h)    Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA)

i)       The World Bank (WB)

j)       Feed the Future (FF)

k)    German International Cooperation (GIZ)

Support areas include:

  • Finalize the Nutrition Policy
  • Cost the Nutrition Policy and advocate for budget line item
  • Decentralization of nutrition policy to regional and district levels
  • Confirm gains in nutrition through Demographic and Health Survey

The UN REACH presentation to CSO, Ms Victoria Wise reiterated their Ghana CIP key thematic areas as follows:

REACH  is an inter-agency consortium comprised of FAO, WHO, UNICEF, WFP

Status of REACH roll-out in West Africa

 

REACH Vision:  End child hunger and under-nutrition

  Ghana CIP key thematic areas

  1. Development of capacity for action at all levels of government to scale up nutrition
  2. Support for the development of a national costed multi-sectoral nutrition action plan
  3. Support for multi-sectoral coordination
  4. Monitoring and Evaluation, Program Management & Accountability
  5. Support to define a common advocacy strategy and plan for nutrition across sectors and at all levels

 

After the above deliberations, the chairperson congratulated the organizers and panelists who, out of their busy schedules, found time to grace the august occasion and also contributed immensely.  She also encouraged the CSOs not to relent in their efforts to make the move towards the successful implementation of SUN in Ghana to the betterment of  Ghanaian mothers and infants in general.  She again called for more collaboration amongst stakeholders by way of periodic meetings and sharing of ideas to promote the scaling up of nutrition in the country.

The SUN Business Network (SBN) presentation delivered by Mr. Emmanuel Quaye, Country Director of GAIN. He maintained that the SBN was established to support the overall objective of the SUN Movement by providing a platform for business sector involvement in SUN in support of improved nutrition.

This online community is designed to facilitate interaction and knowledge sharing between members of the SUN Business Network and the wider nutrition community interested in harnessing business for improved nutrition outcomes.

Through this community, the aim is to:

  • Share concrete examples, lessons learnt and success stories of business contributions to SUN to expand the evidence base.
  • Provide easy access to existing nutrition-related knowledge (policy, technical, programmatic) and best practices.
  • Provide a platform for companies and other stakeholders to engage with each other and to pursue specialist issues of common interest.

In recognition of the critical role played by the private sector in scaling up nutrition in Ghana, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), in its role as co-chair of the SUN Business Network, in collaboration with the Cross Sectoral Planning Group is in the process of setting up a local SUN Business Network in Ghana.

Approach and Principles

The participation of business in the SUN movement as a stakeholder in finding solutions to under nutrition is innovative. In setting out the proposed approach the following are taken into account:

  1. The SBN will support the overall objective of SUN Movement by providing a platform for business to align behind Government plans and support scaling up nutrition.
  2. SBN is not restricted to the food industry. Business is of very broad and varied constituency ranging from smallholder farmers, to SMEs, national and international companies along the entire value chain. The Business Network will seek to involve actors from across sectors including finance, energy and natural resources, logistics and ICT, as well as food companies to deliver solutions.
  3. The emphasis is on building an efficient, virtual platform which will help business to engage, while ensuring that activities support SUN priorities as well as ethical standards, and this will be done with a minimum of bureaucracy.

The activities of the SBN will be transparent and open. Any business that wishes to engage with SUN and become a member of the SBN must comply with a set of Principles of Engagement.

SBN will encourage ethical investments in nutrition to enhance the health and wellbeing of women and children. Members will be asked to provide a basic statement of interest and volunteer any commitments, and must be willing to report against these if requested.

The principal accountability and rules of engagement will rest with government because they coordinate and lead SUN activities through the NDPC, and are responsible for the legal and regulatory environment.

Principles of Engagement of the SUN Business Network

1. Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

2. Businesses should comply with UN guidance on health and nutrition, with a specific mention of the International Code on Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes and World Health Assembly resolutions related to Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition

3. Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;

4. Businesses should uphold the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour; the effective abolition of child labour; and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

5. Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges; undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.

6. Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

The SUN Business Network, together with GAIN Ghana will act as a facilitator and broker for engagements with the private sector and other stakeholders on projects targeting the BOP with affordable nutritious foods, at scale.

SBN is committed to:

  • Ensuring the establishment of the SBN
  • And indeed GAIN global has agreed to fund activities leading to this and the actual launch of the SBN

CHAIRPERSON’S CLOSING REMARKS

The chairperson thanked the organizers and commended the commitment of all the stakeholders including Ghana Health Service and the Private Sector who participated in the Forum.  She also thanked the panelists for taking time off their busy schedules to make the Forum a success.  She encouraged the Ghana Health Service to put in more efforts in the Scale up of Nutrition in Ghana to become fruitful and wished all participants back home safely.

VOTE OF THANKS

The vote of was delivered by Ms. Esther Tawiah, Programmes Manager, Gender Centre for Empowering Development).  She thanked God for making the august occasion possible and also thanked the organizers as well as all the panelists who graced the Forum including all participants/stakeholders for attending at such a short notice.  She also prayed that stakeholders should strive to make the project a success.

CLOSING

The workshop came to a close at 4:08pm with prayers by Alhaji Issah Tagoe of the Ghana Muslim Mission.

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