- On October 31, 2016
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ONE Africa and SEND West Africa have jointly written an open letter to all the presidential candidates contesting the 2016 general election in Ghana.
The letter, which is entitled “A CALL TO PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES TO COMMIT TO ENDING MALNUTRITION IN GHANA”, is aimed at drawing all the presidential candidates’ attention to the devastating effects of malnutrition on the population and the economy, and the need to invest in nutrition in order to reduce stunting and other implications associated with malnutrition.
Read the full letter below.
Dear Presidential Candidate,
RE: OPEN LETTER – A CALL TO PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES TO COMMIT TO ENDING MALNUTRITION IN GHANA
Congratulations on being nominated as the presidential candidate for your political party and the support you have earned from Ghanaians during your campaigns so far.
As a political leader, we believe that you are well aware of the devastating effects of malnutrition on the population and the economy. Globally, poor nutrition is linked to nearly half of all child deaths. In 2014, that amounted to almost 3 million children under 5-years-old. Even for those children who survive past the age of 5, chronic malnutrition permanently impairs their physical and cognitive development. This means they will never reach their full potential and can cost the economy of developing countries as much as 16% of GDP each year. These effects are so severe, such that former Secretary-General of the United Nations – Kofi Annan, Former Ghanaian President – John Kufuor, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation at the African Development Bank (AfdB) annual meetings in Lusaka, May 2016, formed the African Leaders for Nutrition to elevate the issue of nutrition on the continental and global agenda (ONE is actually part of the working group supporting this initiative). However, political leaders can do something about it by increasing investments to treat and prevent malnutrition.
Although Ghana has done well in reducing stunting from an all high of 35% in 2003 to 19% in 2014, there is still much to be done. According to a recent Africa Union Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA) study, Ghana’s economy is losing more than $ 2 billion per year due to the impact of child malnutrition on. With a 16-fold return on investment, tackling this silent killer is one of the best buys in development. Despite the higher dividend that is provided by investing in nutrition, we still observe the following in Ghana:
• Regional disparities with stunting rates as high as 32 percent in Northern Region, and 23 percent in Upper West Region.
• In 2015, 7 out of 10 children in Ghana suffer from vitamin A deficiency, 7 out of 10 children under age five and 2 out of 5 women were anaemic.
• There is still lack of coherence on laws concerning food fortification, baby foods, salt iodisation and other food standards. Some need to be amended or legislative instruments developed to assist with the smooth implementation of the National Nutrition Policy (2013 -2017) and National Nutrition Scale up Plan.
Through strategic interventions this could change. We urge you to commit to accelerating the implementation of aggressive plans to combat malnutrition if elected as President of Ghana, as outlined in the ambitious African Union Malabo Nutrition commitment to reduce stunting to 10% by 2025 and as stated in Goal 2 of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We would be keen to hear your perspective and plans on this important issue once elected. A future, productive, well-nourished and healthy workforce in Ghana depends on tackling malnutrition and promoting nutritional well-being today.
We would also be pleased to have a bilateral meeting with you or a member of your team to further discuss the huge development gains to be made with investments in nutrition.
Nachilala Nkombo, Executive Director, ONE Africa (Interim)
Siapha Kamara, Chief Executive Officer, SEND West Africa