The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has collaborated with Koko Plus Foundation to tackle stunting growth among children.

Started in 2018, the Program is expanding to 106 other districts in the country by end of 2021 after operating in 46 districts.

Available statistics show 16.1% of children in Ashanti Region were stunted as of 2014.

Ashanti Regional Nutrition Officer at the Service, Olivia Timpo, revealed the numbers compelled them to embark on the stunting and nutrition project.

“Ashanti Region is considered as one of the regions where we have enough food with no issues of malnutrition. But currently, the stunting rate of Ashanti region is 16.1%.

“We have over 400 children in the Ashanti Region being stunted. So we realised that there’s a need to look at the absolute figures and hence the need for the stunting prevention program.”

The project called the Stunting Prevention Program was a collaboration with the United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP) through the Koko Plus Foundation in the Ashanti Region.

Mrs Timpo advised that, “Parents should ensure, that they give their children a four start diet. A diet that has staples, legumes, animal source foods, fruits and vegetables, with emphasises on vitamin A rich foods.

“This is a lot of our communities have not done because people cannot afford animal source foods like the milk, meat and egg.”

She explained that is why the GHS collaborated with the Foundation to solve the issue of malnutrition in the Ashanti region.

“One sachet of Koko Plus product adds some level of nutrients to balance what the child is missing in the diet.

“Doing that consistently, will improve the growth of the child, brain development is enhanced, anaemia is reduced and the child increases in height so we don’t have stunting,” she added.

Donation to Orphanage

The project is a partnership with KoKo Plus Foundation, producers of KoKo Plus.

Mrs Timpo said this when the Foundation donated 2,000 pieces of the product to the Ashan Orphanage in the Ashanti Region to help boost the nutrition of the children.

Country Manager for Koko Plus Foundation, Yusuke Takahashie, says the children need the nutritional boost especially those from six months to 2 years old.

“From six months to two years old they need nutrition, it is very important for brain and body”.

The orphanage has 50 inmates and has been operating for the past 20 years. With about 150 having passed through the home.

Founder of Ashan Orphanage, Nana Konadu, says donations like this come to augment their way of operation and will boost the immune system and supplement their growth.

“We never expected this. Other donations also come to support our work here and I am grateful.

“But our challenges are financially based because as a private institution which does not receive support from government, I run the place on my own funds even though this venture is their responsibility.

“We need adequate funds to help their upkeep. People should not only donate food items because we need money too to run the place.”

The Koko Plus Foundation is operating in 46 districts across the country but targets to expand to 106 districts by the end of 2021.

Nutrition Improvement

From 2015 to 2017, the Ghana Nutrition Improvement Project enhanced the nutrition improvement of 200,000 weaning children, 100,000 pregnant and lactating mothers, and 250,000 school-age children, through Koko Plus supplement.

As of April 2017, the Ajinomoto Foundation (TAF) was established and the Ghana Nutrition Improvement Project was handed over from Ajinomoto Co., Inc. to the Foundation.

Under the Foundations great effort with various stakeholders, the approach to weaning children with the nutritious supplement Koko Plus has been successfully expanding, and Ajinomoto Co., Inc. continues to support the activities of the Foundation as a donor.

In the process of the project,  the strategy was to focus on weaning children by distributing Koko Plus.

Officials say firstly, because it is important to establish a social business model by achieving a sustainable long-term nutrition intervention without any aid in the near future.