The COVID19 pandemic poses a strong risk for malnutrition. This is principally due to disruptions in the food system and household incomes. Those at highest risk are children under 5 years who need adequate nutrition not only to boost their immune system but also to grow.
Global child health and nutrition giants including UNICEF in a technical brief strongly advocate that stakeholders prioritize the delivery of preventive services to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on young children’s diets and wellbeing. Key among priority interventions was improving access to nutritious and healthy food through direct or indirect food assistance such as the provision of nutritious food options or vitamin and mineral supplements to improve the quality of young children’s diets.
That is why Holystic Nutrition Organisation, initiated the COVID19 Infant and Young Child Nutrition Support Programme. The programme consists of 3 distinct projects, all with the objective of sustaining the gains from their SMALCHILD Project and ensuring that vulnerable children are protected from all forms of malnutrition and hunger towards health and well- being.
“Due to CVOID-19, the cost of food prices are up, the food system has been disrupted and parents might have lost income or not getting income anymore. This puts children under 5 years typically at risk”, David Ameyaw, Executive Director of Holystic Nutrition said during the launch.
Dr Kwadwo Nyarko-Jectey, lead member of the Obuasi COVID19 Taskforce and Medical Superintendent of the Obuasi Government Hospital, acknowledged that they had been worried about the effects of the current COVID19 pandemic on the already existing malnutrition situation in the communities, seeing the livelihood of most parents have been affected, making it difficult for some to even afford meals.
At the launch of Supplementary Food Assistance for Stunting Prevention Project on Thursday, 21st May, 2020 at the Obuasi Municipal Health Directorate, Mrs Yaa Manu, the acting Obuasi Municipal Director of Health Services added that the intervention was very timely because the supplements to be distributed was going to improve the nutritional status of the children, ensuring that they grow well, protected from stunting and fight diseases adequately.
The Project is aimed at supplementing the diet of children with a lipid-based nutrient supplement called GrowNut, produced by Project Peanut Butter – a partner of the project.
Commenting on the contributions of Holystic Nutrition to infant and young nutrition in Obuasi at the launch, Mr Thomas Opoku, the Municipal Nutrition Officer and CHPS Coordinator praised the NGO for their support in the treatment many children with acute malnutrition for the past 3years. In addition, Mr Peter Owusu Ansah, the Municipal Social Welfare Unit Head, cited Holystic Nutrition Organisation as “one of the few NGOs in the Municipality that is assisting the vulnerable groups in society” recounting their recent support to 25 vulnerable persons with food since the COVID19 pandemic begun.
So far 500 children (under 5yrs) across 10 communities and 2 Orphanages in Obuasi have benefited from the Project, by receiving a 30-days pack of GrowNut a lipid-based micronutrient supplement, between May 21st and 28th, 2020.
Holystic Nutrition is set supplement the diet of an additional 1000 children under 5yrs in the coming weeks.
The COVID19 Infant and Young Child Nutrition Support Programme is an initiative which consist of 3 distinct Project all in the bid to ensure nutrition security for children under 5yrs, who are most vulnerable during this COVID19 pandemic.
In the Household Food Assistance for Vulnerable Children (first project) food items are donated to vulnerable children under 5 years, who had previously been treated on the SMALCHILD Project of Holystic Nutrition. The target beneficiaries are poor children who happen to be orphans or with a single or teenage mother. Each household is given food items worth GHC 130 (US$30) which could last between 2-4 weeks. This includes 5kg of rice, a crate of eggs, 2kg of beans, 1 litre of vegetable oil, 1kg of tomato paste and 30-day course of GrowNut for each child. So far 25 vulnerable individuals (15 children and 10 mothers) from 10 households have benefited from this Project.
The Supplementary Food Assistance for Stunting Prevention Project is aimed at supplementing the diet of children (6months to 5yrs) in the Obuasi Municipal and Obuasi East District to prevent malnutrition and stunting. In the Phase-1 of the Project 500 children shall be given a free 30-days pack of GROWNUT, a Lipid-based Nutrient Supplement (LNS), to supplement their diet with the needed vitamins and minerals for healthy growth. The 2nd Phase is tardeted at 1, 000 more children; with over 30,000 sachets of GrowNut to be distributed.
The distribution shall be done in collaboration with Community Health Nurses from the Ghana Health Service using their scheduled child welfare clinics (CWC) at various CHPS zones as channels, observing strict social distancing protocols.
The 3rd Project, SBCC on Infant and Young Child Feeding Project aims to educate caregivers (nursing mothers) and their households on appropriate IYCF practices to protect the health and wellbeing of their children emphasising on COVID19 preventive practices.
This shall be done through radio, social media, community information centres and TV stations. So far 700 nursing mothers have benefited from direct education from the Holystic Nutrition team across 17 child welfare clinics, with several impacted indirectly through radio programes.