Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has urged government to prioritise diet and nutrition, to advance Ghana’s progress in the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to him, malnutrition in all its forms through a poor diet can undermine efforts to attain the country’s economic and health goals, and through its new agricultural policies, Ghana has an opportunity to reposition its food system to deliver safe, affordable and healthy diets.
Speaking in the capacity as a co-panel of the Global Panel on Agriculture at his residence in Accra, the former president added that national plans needed clear implementation strategies and committed leadership to achieve its potential.
The meeting at his residence followed series of engagements the Global Panel on Agriculture and food systems for nutrition, together with the John Agyekum Kufuor Foundation (JAK Foundation), had with the government and a wide range of stakeholders to gain an in-depth understanding of how agriculture and food systems can work together to improve nutrition for all.
The Global Panel and the JAK Foundation met with President Nana Akufo-Addo in Accra to discuss opportunities for building nutrition initiatives into national policies to achieve Ghana’s SDGs.
On the meeting with Nana Akufo-Addo, Global Panel Co-Chair and former UK Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir John Beddington congratulated Ghana on its commitments and achievements on nutrition.
He stated that initiatives such as Ghana’s zero hunger strategic review and the government’s planting for food and jobs programme are testimony of the strong political will to promote food security and economic growth. He added that central to delivering these policies will be a focus system that delivers health diets.
The Global Panel activities in Ghana, he indicated, support the efforts undertaken by the JAK Foundation, the World Food Programme and the current administration to improve nutrition in the region and achieve Ghana’s 2030 SDGs.
For instance, he said, the World Health Assembly points to the fact that if stunting can actually be reduced in just about 15 African countries, about $83 billion will be added to their national income.
He reiterated that poor diet is one of the beigest causes of death, which outweighs deaths through HIV and alcoholism.
Sandy Thomas, Director of Global Panel on Agriculture and Food systems for nutrition, on her part, pointed out that there are enormous opportunities in Ghana to actually take forward the government ideas of prioritising nutrition in agriculture.
She noted that Ghana has achieved much success in recent years to address under-nutrition. “Between 2003 and 2014, stunting fell from 35 per cent to 19 per cent and Ghana is on track to deliver four of her six World Health Assembly indicators for nutrition.”
However, she says, as many as 1.2 million Ghanaians are still considered food insecure. The Global Panel is an independent group of influential experts with a commitment to tackling global challenges in food and nutrition security.
Their aim is to provide effective guidance to decision-makers, particularly governments, on generating nutrition-enhancing agricultural and food policy and investments in low and middle-income countries.