In the Mamprugu-Moagduri District of Ghana, 2.3 percent of children under the age of five were found to be underweight and about 40 percent of pregnant women were diagnosed as anemic in 2021, as reported by the District Health Information Management System. At the health center in Yikpabongo, a community in the Mamprugu-Moagduri District, health workers have been providing some of the services that are most needed to help tackle the problem of malnutrition. However, they were once limited in their ability to provide these services due to gaps in knowledge, skills, resources, and transportation.
“For several months, we were not able to identify and manage cases of acute malnutrition in children,” stated Wedam Caesar Avugu, a community health nurse at the Yikpabongo Health Center. Mr. Avugu and his colleagues said they did not have resources to conduct outreach visits to communities to identify acute malnutrition cases and provide other child welfare clinic services, such as weighing, immunization, and counseling.
In 2021, health workers at the Yikpabongo Health Center participated in a series of trainings to strengthen their capacity to provide essential nutrition services. With USAID Advancing Nutrition’s support, health authorities trained 715 health workers in 17 districts in community management of acute malnutrition, anemia prevention and control, outreach planning, and infant and young child feeding. The project also provided logistical support for the health workers to outreach to neighboring communities.
Because of the support provided by USAID Advancing Nutrition, health workers in Yikpabongo were able to expand their efforts to screen children and identify those with acute or severe malnutrition. “Since the beginning of the year , we have been able to identify four [cases of acute malnutrition] and we have cured and discharged them all,” Mr. Avugu explained. He said they were now able to conduct monthly outreach to communities to provide services and home visits to follow up on children being treated for acute or severe malnutrition.
“Between January and February this year , we conducted outreach to Tuvuu, Dabozesi, Mugu, and Yikpabongo town and provided services to 286 clients, between the ages of 0-59 [months],” he noted. Mr. Avugu said they will continue to improve the delivery of essential nutrition services to pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children under five years to help address malnutrition in the district.
USAID Advancing Nutrition continues to support the Government of Ghana’s efforts to improve district planning for equitable service delivery, which promotes household resilience and early childhood growth and development.