The women in agricultural Development Directorate (WIAD) of the Ministry of food and Agriculture (MoFA) organised a debriefing meeting on the second International Conference on Nutrition two (ICN2) held in November 2014 in Rome. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) jointly organized the ICN2 as a follow up to the first International Conference on nutrition held in 1992, in response to the slow progress made in reducing malnutrition despite the steady increase in global food production. At the first Conference in 1992, a World Declaration and Plan of Action for Nutrition were adopted with a pledge to eliminate or reduce substantially:
- Starvation and famine
- Widespread chronic hunger
- Under-nutrition, especially among children, women and the aged
- Micronutrient deficiencies especially iron, iodine and vitamin A deficiencies
- Diet related communicable and non-communicable diseases
- Impediments to optimal breast-feeding
- Inadequate sanitation, poor hygiene and unsafe drinking water.
The Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) was convened to take stock of the progress made since 1992, and to place nutrition high on the global agenda.
OVERVIEW OF ICN2
Objectives of ICN2
- Review progress made since the first ICN to reduce malnutrition.
- Review country-level achievements for scaling up nutrition through direct nutrition interventions (nutrition-specific) and nutrition-sensitive development policies and programmes.
- Identify policy measures in health, agriculture, trade, consumers’ policies and social support to improve global nutrition and develop consensus around a global multi-sectoral nutrition framework.
- Strengthen political and policy coherence and coordination for improving global nutrition.
- Raise the political will necessary to mobilize the resources needed for achieving nutrition –related MDGs through a balanced multi-sector approach.
Outcome of ICN2
The key outcome of the Conference was the adoption of the Conference Outcome Documents; the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and its accompanying Framework for Action to tackle hunger and obesity by member states.
Ghana was represented by nine member delegation led by Hon. Dr. Kwaku Agyemang-Mensah, Minister of Health at the time and funded by the FAO, WFP, UN REACH, WHO and UNICEF.
The other members included the following
- Isaac Osei, Member of Parliament for Subin;
- Mrs Mary Opoku Asiama, Director Women in Agricultural Development Directorate (WIAD) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA);
- Mrs Kate Quarshie Deputy Director of the Nutrition Department of the Ghana Health Service, Ministry of Health/ (MoH/GHS);
- Mr Enoch Cobbina, Chief Director, Ministry of Education (MoE);
- Benard Ayensu, Deputy Director, Ministry of Education (MoE) and
- Papa Yaw Atobrah, Deputy Director Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD).
- Mohammed Ag Bendech, Regional Nutrition Officer FAO
- Victoria Wise, UN REACH Facilitator
The debriefing was to strengthen multi-sectoral collaboration and inform policy makers on nutrition targets and intermediate milestones which can be integrated to speed up efforts at reducing malnutrition in all its forms from 2015 to 2025 (the time frame for implementation).
The Honourable Deputy Minister in charge of Crops at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture graced the occasion.
Three presentations were made by Nutrition Department of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) and WIAD.
MoFAD focused on quality assurance, stressing on the need to check Histamine levels in fish from “boat to bowl” to ensure consumer safety. They embraced the need for MoFAD to integrate nutrition into their policy.
The Nutrition Department of the GHS highlighted the actions to promote, protect and support breastfeeding and address all forms of malnutrition in Ghana. It was mentioned that National Nutrition Policy has been developed and sectoral nutrition strategic plans are being developed to be costed and merged as the National Nutrition Strategic plan to receive cabinet approval.
The Director WIAD outlined some of the activities that MoFA is doing to promote nutrition. For instance the promotion of nutrition sensitive agriculture and the development of nutrition action plan for the agricultural sector
- It was clear that an enabling environment has been created but progress for the sector plans for nutrition has been slow. A multisectoral platform under Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement already exist to support nutrition programmes and is coordinated by National Development Planning Commission (NDPC). A National Nutrition Policy has been developed with support from SUN. The various sectors were encouraged to link up with the representative of the United Nations Renewed Efforts At Ending Child Hunger (UN REACH) for the necessary support to complete their Action Plans to solicit the commitment from the government and also to source for funding.
- Food safety promotion is key especially in the prevention of high levels of histamine in fish. A pilot study has started at in some coastal communities e.g. Kpone and Winneba where insulated containers with ice is used to preserve fish from “boat to bowl”. Results so far has been good.
- The Sanitary Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) Centre at Plant Protection and Regulatory Directorate (PPRSD) Pokuase of MoFA needs to be made effective and efficient to ensure standardization of food from “plough to plate”. The SPS Centre is the national institution set up to address agriculture related issues on safety and there is the need for a massive campaign to inform the public about its existence. MoFA and MoFAD can cooperate effectively under the SPS.
- The need to check pesticides use and the effects on fish when it drains into water bodies and affect the water quality was raised. MoFAD had initiated action with a written notice to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to get the list of the permitted pesticides so as to monitor the safe and efficient use.
- There is the need for a Meat Inspection Policy in Ghana. At the moment the Veterinary Services Directorate (VSD) currently operates under the Public Health Law Article 83 to undertake the inspection.
Remarks by The Hon. Deputy Minister of Crops – Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan:
- Efforts are being made to ensure SPS work efficiently and entreated all to be on board. He added that modern equipment is at PPRSD to enforce standards.
- Meat inspection has been rightly assigned to VSD and not Food and Drugs Authority through the effort of the Hon. Deputy Minister. The need for meat inspection law was well noted.
- Nutrition is central but advocacy is not enough if it produces no tangibles. It is the projects and programmes that should be shaped to produce tangibles hence the importance of science and technology for evidence. Nutrition issues are generational and we should ensure an improved nutritional status for the future generations.
- Collaboration is good but it is more important at the level of implementation to avoid duplication. For instance GHS use Agricultural Extension Agents to deliver health extension messages.
- MoFA could also capture information at the implementation level on routine basis and aggregated for a national total as done by Health. Institutionalized data collection at various directorates to feed the Statistics Research and Information Directorate (SRID) needs to be pursued rather than relying on SRID.
- Seasonality of agriculture affects food prices and proposals focusing on irrigation facilities should come with funding suggestions.
- Information flow in MoFA should improve.
Agriculture and nutrition are intrinsically linked which underscores the important role of agriculture in the fight against malnutrition. The meeting therefore reinforced the attitude of various sectors’ contribution to agriculture and nutrition.
Way Forward for WIAD
WIAD as well as the other sectors to complete the Sector Nutrition Action Plan compilation into the National Nutrition Action Plan.