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27.03.2009 Health

Under five mortality rate can be prevented


Under five mortality rates can be prevented if fortified foods such as wheat flour and cooking oils are used in the daily meals of such children.

This is because children were exposed to the eating of bread and other baked foods earlier in life, so eating fortified foods containing the required nutrients such as vitamins and folic acid would boost their immune system.

The Eastern Regional Deputy Director of Public Health, Dr George Bonsu, said this at a day's sensitization workshop in Koforidua, on the need for fortified foods for nutrition officers and bakers in the Region.

According to Dr Bonsu deficiency in vitamins and iodine in children was not healthy, because it exposed them to infections and other diseases that could have been treated or prevented.

He urged nutrition officers to educate mothers on the need for nutritious foods to their children.

Dr Bonsu indicated that the use of fortified foods was not important to children alone but to all human beings for proper functioning of the immune system against all diseases and infections.

He said fortified foods had the required vitamins and other nutrients that did not have side effects for its consumption.

The Regional Nutrition Officer, Mr Bismark Sarkodee, said deficiencies of vitamins and minerals were very common in Ghana with as many as seven out of every 10 children being vitamin A deficient.

According to Mr Sarkodee the giving of vitamin A supplement drops to children under five was one of the first intervention, but there is the need for a general intervention for both adults and children, hence the need for fortification of foods.

He said in that direction wheat flour produced in Ghana and cooking oils produced by Unilever was fortified with nutrients determined and based on the body's needs for good health.

The wheat flour for instance was fortified with a number of nutrients including iron, vitamins A and B, folic acid and zinc, to reduce widespread deficiency of those important nutrients.

He therefore urged bakers to look out for the logo of fortified foods on the flour and other ingredients they use to ensure that consumers had the necessary nutrients they needed in the baked foods.

The sensitization workshop was organized by the regional directorate of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) with the participants drawn from all the districts including district nutrition officers and bakers.