Participants at a National Multi-Stakeholder Nutrition Forum and the First National Nutrition Conference have called on the government to establish a National Food and Nutrition Commission to strengthen coordination of food and nutrition policies in the country.
They have also asked that sufficient funding with clear budget lines for nutrition coordination, programmes and research be allocated.
A communique issued by the forum in Accra, said it behoves government to ensure that the inter-ministerial coordinating committee on nutrition conducts a structured engagement with academia, research and civil society.
The forum observed that a multi-stakeholder platform that brought together cross-sectoral stakeholders who are implementing different aspects of the National Nutrition Policy and related programmes and are influential in bringing improvements in nutrition outcomes in Ghana if their work is effectively coordinated.
The Forum also created the opportunity to validate findings of the ‘Stories of Change’ research initiative by the University of Ghana, School of Public Health, and other institutions.
Three research projects were featured which include; Measurement, Evaluation, Accountability and Leadership Support (MEALS4NCDS) for Non-communicable Diseases (NCDS) Prevention, Dietary Transitions in Ghanaian/African Cities (DFC/TACLED), and the Accra Urban Adolescent Nutrition Study.
The forum expressed determination to develop capacities in nutrition through training, research, programme and stakeholder engagements.
It will also influence and strengthen the cross-sectoral collaboration among all key stakeholders in nutrition.
Again, it will advocate for political commitment for enhanced implementation of infant and young child feeding.
The forum was attended by 106 participants from academic institutions, civil society, public and private sector institutions and diplomatic missions among others.
It was jointly convened by the University of Ghana (UG); the Ghana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (GAND); Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology; the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) -Voice for Change Partnership (V4CP).
Collaborators included the John Agyekum Kufour (JAK) Foundation and University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS).
The Forum focused on the role of evidence in decision-making and implementation of national nutrition priorities, policies, and programmes.
It also created the opportunity to validate findings of the stories of change research initiative by the UG School of Public Health, and to disseminate findings of various nutrition and food environment research and advocacy initiatives.
These initiatives included the Researching the Obesogenic Food Environment (ROFE) study implemented by the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. From the University of Ghana, three research projects were featured: Providing Measurement, Evaluation, Accountability and Leadership Support (MEALS4NCDS) for Non-communicable Diseases (NCDS) Prevention, Dietary Transitions in Ghanaian/African Cities (DFC/TACLED), and the Accra Urban Adolescent Nutrition Study. The SNV also presented evidence on its project, Voice for Change Partnership (V4CP).
Speaking at the event, the Chief Executive Officer of the John Agyekum Kuffuor Foundation, Prof. Baffuor Agyeman-Duah indicated the Foundation's support to the work by academia to disseminate findings of various nutrition and food environment research and advocacy initiatives.
The Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Ron Strikker, highlighted the economic and social cost of hunger to Ghana and addressed efforts to curb malnutrition and to create a high-level National Nutrition Coordination body in the country.