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24.11.2005 General News

Ghana to lose millions of dollars if ...

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... nutritional disorders are not controlled Accra, Nov. 24, GNA - Professor Emmanuel Asibey-Berko of the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, University of Ghana, on Thursday said Ghana would lose 161 million dollars to the cost of health bills and low productivity if measures were not taken to improve the Iron Deficiencies Anaemia (IDA) of the population. Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) would also claim 108 million dollars, costing the nation 53 million dollars to control and saving 55 million dollars if controlled.

Speaking on the topic: "Linkages between Nutrition and Well-being," at a three-day National Forum on Health in Accra, Prof Asibey-Berko said there were four main nutritional disorders namely, Protein Energy Malnutrition (PEM), IDA, IDD and Vitamin A deficiency (VAD). The forum brought together the country's experts to dialogue on a new paradigm for health and formulate a new health policy for 2006. The forum will also look at the burden of diseases, determinants of diseases, options, and approaches for improving health, recommendations and the way forward.

For VAD, the country would lose 142 million dollars in health bills and low productivity, which could cost the nation 28 million dollars to control and save 114 millions if controlled.

Prof. Asibey-Berko noted that PEM, mainly Kwashiorkor, Marasmus and Marasmic-Kwashiorkor, mixture of the first two, was considered the most prevalent.

IDA, which is the second most prevalent, has 83 per cent of preschoolers being anaemic, school age children formed 71 per cent and 65 per cent were pregnant women.

He said the country was abound with iron rich foods such as leafy green vegetables, eggs and meat and "yet we still have these problems". It will cost the nation 133 million dollars to control it over a period of five years and save 28 million dollars if controlled over the same period of five years.

Prof. Asibey-Berko noted that anaemia had some severe side effects, which could reduce the learning ability and attention span in class among children.

"It also reduces school achievement and these are serious situations that we should not sleep over if we want our children to achieve academic excellence."

He called on government to invest in the control of these nutritional disorders, "as a matter of urgency", to save the nation some money in the long term.

He called for the need to expand the Ministry of Health's programme of distribution of iron, folate and vitamin B12 to pregnant women during their antenatal clinics and expand it to school children. Prof. Asibey-Berko advised all to consume more of foods rich in Vitamin C such as oranges after every meal and put an end to eating heavy meals at nights.

He also advised that Ghanaians should consume iodated salt for mental health and seafood for well-being.

"Wealth is conserved when government invests to control malnutrition. Good nutrition will keep many sicknesses away therefore we should eat balanced diets containing proteins, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables", he added.

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