First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo giving the first dose of the supplement to 24 girls at the launch
FIRST LADY Rebecca Akufo-Addo on Wednesday launched the first phase of ‘Girls Iron & Folic Acid Supplementation Project’ by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) at Sunyani, aimed at reducing anaemic effects on adolescent girls and women in the country.
The project is expected to solve iron deficiency and prevent anaemic effects on about 960, 000 in and out school girls in four regions of the country, including Brong Ahafo, Volta, Northern and Upper East Regions.
Addressing women at the Sunyani Jubilee Park, including school girls drawn from the various JHSs, SHSs in the region, queen mothers, health workers and market women, the first lady stressed the need to supplement nutritional diet of adolescent girls, children and child bearing women with iron and folic acid tablets every week to reduce or prevent anaemia-related diseases among women, which create a lot of developmental challenges for women’s growth and reduce their full potentials in school, home and the nation at large.
Anaemia is a serious public health problem that affects women, adolescent girls and children throughout their life cycle, and has been described globally as the greatest nutrition problem. “In Ghana, anaemia is highly prevalent and current statics show that four in every 10 women suffer from anaemia, while the rate is 48 percent in adolescent girls, it is about 50 percent in pregnant women,” she stated.
“Its effect is enormous, including limiting their development, learning ability, reduces concentration in daily activities, increases their vulnerability in dropping out of school, reduce physical fitness and work productivity among others challenges. When anaemic girls become pregnant, then there is double deprivation. Such girls are at higher risk of premature births, low birth weight babies and death of mothers during delivery,” she bemoaned.
As such, the best solution is to give them nutrient rich food with additional meat, liver, chicken, egg, fish and provide them with iron folate supplements routinely to reduce the effect of anaemia on them.
Mrs Akufo-Addo consequently launched the project and gave the first 24 girls the dose of the tablets. The supplements are to be taken every week.
Addressing the gathering, the Director General of the GHS, Dr Nsia Asare, explained that country is currently battling with what he described as triple burden of malnutrition with high prevalence rate of under nutrition, micro-nutrient deficiencies of alarming proposition in overweight and obesity, particularly in urban areas as result of lack of iron rich nutrition. “Anaemia in pregnancy remains a major challenge in the effort of reducing maternal mortality,” he mentioned.
According to him, data from Ghana Demographic Health Survey showed that since 2014 the prevalent rate of anaemia among child bearing women between the ages of 15-49 years is 42, whilst that of adolescent girls of 15-19 is higher 48 percent and 45 percent in pregnant women.
He, therefore, added that the programme is expected to revamp the existing iron and folic acid supplementation to reduce the rate of anaemia among adolescent girls and women. Dr Asare entreated the teachers and all and sundry to encourage girls to hook on to the programme in order for it to have positive effects on women in the country for higher development.
FROM Daniel Y Dayee, Sunyani