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05.03.2009 Health

Nutritionist worried over high cases of malaria…among children, pregnant women

By William N-lanjerborr Jalulah, Bolgatanga - Ghanaian Chronicle

THE DEPUTY Chief Nutrition Officer and Programme Manager of the Nutrition Malaria Control for Child Survival Project (NMCCSP) at the Nutrition Department of the Ghana Health Service, Headquarters, Accra, Madam Hannah Adjei, has expressed concern over the high incidence of malaria among children.

Speaking at a forum in Bolgatanga, the nutritionist said malaria remained the single largest killer of children, accounting for about 26% of deaths, and 40% of out-patient and hospital admission cases.

According to her, the limited availability of preventive items such as Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets had been identified as a key bottleneck in the fight against malaria and associated child mortality.

Madam Adjei said the disease was more frequent and severe among malnourished children, leading to higher morbidity and mortality.

She said a recent study in northern Ghana, reported that underweight children were significantly more likely to have clinical malaria and anemia.

She said the main objective of the NMCCSP was to improve utilisation of selected community-based health and nutrition services for children under the age of two, and pregnant women in the target districts.

The project would also support priority areas, like nutrition and malaria control in the programme of work of the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service, which were known to have strong links with child survival, but have received inadequate attention.

Madam Adjei was also worried that there were challenges of communities to identify strategies to address problems of malaria and malnutrition.

She gave the assurance that the project would intensify education on the fight against malaria and malnutrition in these communities, and asked for the cooperation and assistance of all stakeholders in that direction.

The Upper East Regional Acting Nutrition Officer, Madam Fati Wasai-Bobtoya, identified disease, poverty and hunger, as the major causes of severe malaria and malnutrition among children.

She said when children were malnourished, it took a very long time for them to recover, and that there was the need for all and sundry to play pivotal roles to deal with the situation.

Madam Wasai-Bobtoya thanked World Food Programme Emergency for Operation, for its emergency food supply towards improving the nutrition status of malnourished children at the various rehabilitation centres across the region.

She advised parents to be consistent in the monthly weighing of their children by the GHS, to determine their weight, so that the appropriate food supplement could be given to keep them healthy.

Parents should also ensure that they complete the immunisation of their children, as being prescribed by health workers.

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