Former Ghanaian leader and co-chair of the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, John Agyekum Kufuor, has called on the government of Ghana to prioritise diet quality and nutrition as part of efforts to help the country achieve its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Briefing the media at his residence on Wednesday in Accra after he and other senior members of the Global Panel met with President Akufo-Addo, some ministers of state and top government officials, Mr Kufuor explained that “to advance progress on the SDGs, we must prioritise diet quality and nutrition.”
The three-day meeting with the government officials, which ended with an encounter with President Akufo-Addo on Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at the Flagstaff House, was to enable the Global Panel discuss opportunities for mainstreaming nutrition initiatives into national policies to enable the country to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Mr Kufuor indicated that “to develop humanity well, you must focus on nutrition.”
Global Panel co-chair and former UK Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir John Beddington, commended the government on its commitments and achievements on nutrition.
According to him, initiatives such as Ghana's Zero Hunger Strategic Review and the government's 'Planting for Food & Jobs' programme are testimony of the strong political will to promote food security, and economic growth.
“Central to delivering these policies will be a food system that delivers healthy diets,” the co-chair added.
That, notwithstanding, Sir Beddington bemoaned that stunting in children was reducing the gross domestic product (GDP) of Africa.
Poor diet, he said, was one of the issues adversely affecting the world as a whole and that there was the need for global and national efforts to address it.
The Director of the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, Sandy Thomas, lamented that across many parts of the world, there were many people who cannot have access to balance diets.
“We have to pay much more attention to balance diet,” she warned, indicating that ailments such as anaemia, obesity, among others, are all associated with poor diets.
The Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition was established in August 2013 at the Nutrition for Growth Summit in London.
The Panel is jointly funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID).
It is an independent group of experts and leaders who hold or have held high office and who show strong personal commitment to improving nutrition.
The Panel is co-chaired by Mr Kufuor and Sir John Beddington and its activities in Ghana support the efforts undertaken by the John Agyekum Kufuor Foundation, the World Food Programme and the government to improve nutrition in the region, and achieve Ghana's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
BY Melvin Tarlue