Opinions Wed, 6 Oct 2021

Government championing Food Environment transformation in Ghana

Following the historic Food Systems Summit held on 23rd September 2021, where our President, His Excellency Nana Addo-Danqua Akufo-Addo delivered a speech signaling Ghana’s commitment to transforming Food Systems, the Ministry of Health convened a consultative meeting on September, 30th with dignitaries from diverse public and private institutions, to initiate Ghana’s food environment transformation.

The MOH call for resolute actions that improve our food environment was honored by representatives of the Honorable Ministers for Health, for Trade and Industry, for Finance, and for Gender, Children and Social Protection, representatives of several other Government Departments, and Agencies, United Nations Agencies, academic and research institutions, civil society, and the media.

Such an unprecedented gathering led by the government to transforming food environments in Ghana was initiated with evidence-loaded presentations from the Dietary Transitions in Ghanaian cities Project, the MEALS4NCDs Project, among others.

At the meeting, stakeholders were presented with evidence that showed that Ghanaians are exposed to unhealthy food. The government and its agencies, after appreciating the implications of Ghana's unhealthy food environment agreed that Ghana will not be able to “afford the cost of inaction” as consumption of such foods lead to the development of nutrition-related non-communicable diseases. Stakeholders thus proceeded to discuss possible interventions.

Several options were presented to the government of Ghana to implement policies that empower Ghanaians with the means to make healthier food choices. All dignitaries at the meeting presented options on the table. Some of these suggestions included the development of Food-Based Dietary Guidelines, the development of a Nutrient Profiling system to facilitate food labeling, marketing restrictions, fiscal policies, etc.

The experts referred to the combined implementation of all these policies as policy bundling. These tools would literally empower each Ghanaian to pick food items off the shelves based on their healthiness.

This discussion that was led by the MoH followed suit the speech delivered by His Excellency President of the Republic Of Ghana at the UN Food Systems Summit, that Ghana commits to “develop and implement food-based dietary guidelines by 2022, update and consolidate local food composition databases, and develop a nutrient profiling system to facilitate implementation of food-based policies (including front-of-package labelling, fiscal policies, and marketing restrictions, especially to children)” among others.
Columnist: Ernest Senanu Dovlo
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