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Member of Parliament spearheads healthy diets crusade

On 30th September 2021, the Ministry of Health convened other ministries, government agencies and key partners in a stakeholder consultative meeting to reflect on promoting healthier diets in Ghana. The meeting was reflective of Ghana’s desire to address the rising burden of diet-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country. Many experts including representatives of academia, civil society organisations as well as a representative from Ghana’s parliament.

Hon. Dr. Sabestian N. Sandaare, a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health participated in the meeting and expressed the parliament’s interest in the health of their constituents – Ghanaians. He delivered a message of solidarity on behalf of the Ghanaian Coalition of Actors for Public Health Advocacy (CAPHA) of which he is also a member. He stated that “As a coalition, they acknowledge as a major public health problem, the increasing morbidity and mortality resulting from NCDs across countries in Africa including Ghana”, and lauded the timeliness and significance of the meeting.

At the meeting, evidence from research carried out by the MEALS4NCDs Prevention Project (a project that is measuring the healthiness of Ghanaian children’s food environments to prevent obesity and Non-Communicable Diseases Project) were shared. The MEALS4NCDs Project is led by the School of Public Health, University of Ghana. The research data highlighted the need to improve nutrition literacy among the population, improve access to healthy foods, and regulate the sale and advertising of unhealthy foods in and around schools. Existing research links inadequate access to nutritious, safe, and healthy foods, as well as exposure to unhealthy food environments, and overconsumption of unhealthy diets to the development of malnutrition in all its forms. This justifies the call for a transformation of Ghana’s current food environment to promote healthy foods in lieu of unhealthy foods which is the status quo.

Diet-related NCDs are preventable, and this was duly acknowledged by the Hon. member of parliament who stated that, “we believe that most NCDs are preventable, especially the diet-related NCDs which can be prevented through promotion of healthier diets and improved nutrition among populations.”. To achieve this outcome of improving nutrition among population, public health experts at the meeting agreed that formulating a policy bundle to promote healthier diets remains central to winning the fight against diet-related NCDs in Ghana.

The Parliament’s contribution to achieving this objective was duly expressed by Hon Sandaare’s statement – “We therefore do not take it lightly that we have been given the platform to contribute to discussions towards developing a food policy package for healthier diets in Ghana and we fully pledge our support to the process”.

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