Prof Akosa made this known when he chaired the launch of a report by the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition.
Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, a doctor and former Director-General of the Ghana Health Service has said that 5.5 million of the country’s adult population are currently experiencing malnourishment.
According to him, the situation, if not checked could lead to a food nutrition crisis in the country.
“Ghana is said to be doing well but we have 5.5 million adults walking the surface of Ghana who are malnourished.
“We know that by the 1000th day - that is nine months in the mother’s womb and two years on the surface of this earth if you are not able to correct any nutritional deficit, you carry that deficit for the rest of your life”, he stressed.
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Prof Akosa made this known when he chaired the launch of a report by the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, which is co-Chaired by former President John Agyekum Kufuor.
Touching on the report titled: “Food systems and diets: Facing the challenges of the 21st Century”, Prof. Akosa said; “Poor diet is now accepted as the single most important contributor to diseases in the world. It is greater than the combined effect of unsafe sex, the use of drugs and tobacco and, therefore, it becomes very important. Diet-related diseases are galore – the hypertensions, diabetes, the cancers and so many others.”
He said: “It is the food that builds the grey matter in your brain – that is what you use to think, so if that is compromised, your thinking ability is compromised, your ability to reason, your ability to even understand simple messages is compromised. As if that is not enough, your physical ability to work is also compromised.”
According to him, 69 per cent of women in the productive age group were anaemic, which means that, “We have a battle on our hands; we are in a nutritional crisis but this report has given us all we need to be able to sort out that problem.”
On her part, the Executive Director of the Global Panel, Prof. Sandy Thomas said: “Despite global progress in reducing hunger and under-nutrition in the past 25 years, today we have malnutrition in all its forms under-nutrition, with obesity and overweight affecting all 192 countries of the world.”
“If business continues as usual, there will be 216 million undernourished people in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030”, the report indicated.
The report also stated that chronic malnutrition is the underlying cause of approximately half of the child deaths in sub-Saharan Africa in 2015.
It further indicated that the number of stunted children under five years is rising by 500,000 every year.
Even though the report stated that under-nutrition and hunger are still the country’s challenges, the report nevertheless praised Ghana for being one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1C on hunger and poverty reduction and also reducing stunting from more than 30 per cent to 18.8 per cent in 2015.
The report, in effect, outlined some decisive actions for policy makers in Africa to consider in solving the country’s nutrition challenges.
It asked African countries to focus on food and agriculture policies that will improve the diet of children, young people, and adult women.
The report also stated that fruits and vegetables should be made available and affordable for consumers in the country.
The Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition is an independent group of influential experts with a commitment to tackling global challenges in food and nutrition security.