A conference to dialogue on innovative ways at curbing malnutrition and nutrition related diseases in the country has been launched in Accra.
The "Nutritious Ghana Conference (NGC)" slated from March 27 to 29, 2019, is expected to gather nutritional experts, agriculturists, food processors, policy makers and other professionals in the food value chain to improve the nutritional deficit in the country towards achieving the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
An initiative of non-governmental organisation, Healthy Living Foundation and Imagine8 Company, the three-day conference will be on the theme, "Integrated approach to promoting a nutritious Ghana."
The Minister of Planning, Professor George Gyan-Baffour, in a speech read on his behalf at the launch yesterday, decried the prevalence of diseases in the country as a result of bad eating habits and malnourishment among many individuals.
Citing a report by the John Agyekum Kufuor Foundation and Global Panel on Food Systems and Healthy Diets, the minister observed the high rates of anaemia, overweight and obesity among Ghanaians were due to consumption of highly fatty, sugary and processed foods.
"The trend of fast foods together with international changes are unfortunately contributing to eating behaviours that lead to overweight and other lifestyle diseases," he stated.
Prof. Gyan-Baffour underscored the need to develop healthy dietary and lifestyle patterns from early stages in children to positively impact on their nutrition and health throughout adult life.
"It is imperative that we inculcate lifelong healthy eating habits and lifestyle strategies from pre-school to high schools to inform eating habits among the youth who form majority of our population," he urged.
Prof. Gyan-Baffour hoped the conference would bring about practical understanding of factors that enabled good nutrition among the populace, particularly in pregnant women and babies under age two "because this is where the foundation can be laid for a healthy life through nutrition."
"With proper nutritional information, encouragement and support, Ghanaians can control many of the factors that influence their health and learn to take greater responsibility for their own wellbeing," he maintained.
Prof. Gyan-Baffour further called for multi-sectorial approach to dealing with the challenge of malnutrition, pledging government's commitment to the course "to create greater awareness on nutrition and positive lifestyle which will help people stay in shape and allow them live healthier lives."
Mrs Theresa Wayo, Deputy Director of Women in Agricultural Development under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, entreated Ghanaians to patronise locally produced foodstuffs over imported foods which was usually chemically infested.
"Let us introduce our children to home-made foods, so that they can grow with it instead of these canned imported foods. We are what we are making our children and what they will be," she advised.
Touching on works by her outfit to promote nutrition in the country, the food safety specialist indicated that the ministry was in talks with farmers, particularly those in peri-urban areas, to wean them off the use of fertilisers and other chemicals for their produce.
"We have developed recipe books, sensitising people on nutritional practices and also working with school feeding caterers to ensure quality ingredients are used to prepare food for school children," she said.
The Board Chairperson of the NGC, Mrs Martha Gertrude Kwashigah, said activities, including a piloting of a demonstration kitchen for cooks, hands-on training for matrons in public institutions, public sensitisations and formation of nutritious clubs in schools will be held as part of the conference.