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Covid-19 impact;Child malnutrition on the increase-UNICEF

A multi-dimensional child poverty survey conducted in January 2020 has revealed that 40% of children in Ghana under age 5, were deprived of nutrition. Anemia among women of reproductive age the survey said is also on the increased above 40%.  

Minimum acceptable diet for children under 2 years  who have access to quality food was only 12%.  Wasted pregnancy it said was  also increased to 7%, which  higher than the world assembly target.  

The survey further revealed about 1million of children less than 5 years in Ghana are too short for their age.  

The findings indicated that obesity and overweight are becoming a health problem in the country with about 30% in 2008 to 40% in 2014.  

In exclusive breast feeding, it said only 43% of children are being put to breast within the first 6 months. On the impact of covid-19 on nutrition, it founds out that children are becoming more prone to acute malnutrition as a result of them losing appetite for food. 

United Nation Children’s Fund (Unicef) Nutrition Officer, Porbilla Ofosu-Apea who disclosed to journalists in Tamale  at a day’s media training on the impact of covid-19 said about 350,000  children under 5 are suffering from severe acute malnutrition. 

She attributed it to disruption of service delivery in the health sector during covid-19 pandemic. 

Mrs Porbilla explained that a huge gap has been created by covid-19 for access to nutrition services at the health facilities and Child Welfare Clinic( CWC ) services also recording low because the focus was shifted to getting resources to respond to covid-19. 

Getting more PPEs and ensuring that the few health personnel were re-assigned to high or epic centers to attend to covid-19 cases was the focus.  

The situation she noted resulted to care givers also being reluctant to visiting the facilities because they fear of contracting covid-19 and also not sure of personnel attending to them. 

Production of food services according to unicef nutrition officer was affected leading to increase of food prices and access to school meal by students was no more because of the closure. 

This occasioned a quarterly food and nutrition survey by Unicef and World Food Program which reveals that majority of households interviewed admitting that prices of food commodities, especially plantain and cassava increased in June compared to the same period in 2019. 

The households she added  adopted a coping strategies to adapt to covid-19 situation. 

The situation resulted to less  children attended CWC clinics in the second quarter in 2020 compare to same period in 2019 leading to the decline of about 22%. 

She explained that the consequences of malnourish could lead to death or affect a child’s cognitive development which virtually can ruin his or her future. 

The disruption of services she added worsened the children plight because their mothers lose opportunity of being educated on the locally available diversified diet.

Officers in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene(WASH) and education took journalists  through on the impact of civid-19.

Communications Officer of unicef Offeibia Baiddo said even though the media did well during hikes of the pandemic in Ghana, little attention was paid to the impact children’s. She entreated the media  to examine the critical issues emanating from the outbreak of coved-19. 

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