IMPLEMENTING NUTRITION INTERVENTIONS IN GHANA AT DISTRICT LEVEL: GAPS AND OPPORTUNITIES|
Gongwer, C.R. & Aryeetey, R.
Malnutrition among women and children is an underlying cause of high morbidity and mortality in the developing world. Ghana is one of 36 countries with a high prevalence (> 20%) of chronic stunting in childhood. Although proven and inexpensive technologies and interventions exist to address maternal and child malnutrition, their implementation remains at a low scale in many developing countries, including Ghana. In Ghana, barriers to scaling up nutrition actions have been identified at the national level, yet little is known about the situation at the district and sub-district levels where nutrition interventions are directly delivered. The current study assessed district-level capacity and commitment for accelerating implementation of effective nutrition interventions to address the high burden of maternal and child malnutrition. In June 2010, key informant interviews involving technical officers, clinicians, nurses, and administrative staff, and a desk review of program and administrative reports were conducted in the Omanye District (pseudonym). Using the framework from the WHO landscape analysis of readiness to scale up nutrition actions, interviews explored questions of commitment (financial, planning, collaborations) and capacity (human resources, job aids, skills) to implement nutrition actions in the district. Most key nutrition interventions were being implemented in the Omanye District including growth promotion, micronutrient supplementation, behavior change communication on infant and young child feeding, and a pilot project for community management of severe acute malnutrition. Interventions are challenged, however, by barriers including inadequate financial commitment, low prioritization of nutrition, inadequate personnel, and insufficient job aids. Because nutrition was relatively underfunded in the district, nutrition technical officers had been shifted to perform other or additional tasks. Insufficient investment and inadequate capacity prevents delivery of quality nutrition services in the Omanye District. Interventions that prioritize and improve investment in nutrition actions are needed to optimize nutrition services at the district level in Ghana.
Nutrition; Capacity; Commitment; District; Ghana