There is an acute shortage of ready-to-use therapeutic food also known as plumpy nuts, a critical food supplement for children suffering severe malnutrition in the Northern region.
An investigation by Joy News reveals that the Ghana Health Service has not supplied the nuts to the region for the past three months.
Justice Baidoo was in the Nanumba North District of the region and reports that the shortage could be putting the lives of hundreds of malnourished children at risk.
In a district where women have little or no knowledge of family planning, childbirth is rampant and as Justice discovered, some women get pregnant just about three months after giving birth.
This makes it impossible for the mother to breastfeed her newborn child, resulting in malnutrition. The children have to rely on the food supplement for essential nutritional needs.
But for the past three months, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) which has been supplying Ghana with the food supplement cut supplies.
This has left many mothers and health facilities in the district in a fix and with no alternatives for babies.
At Lipaasly, one of the towns with the highest number of malnourished children, Daniel Alhassan, a health worker in the CHIPS Compound there regretted the development but said there is little they can do.
He said time is running out for the children and “when they are malnourished, their immune system suppresses so any little infection takes the child away…common malaria can lead to death.”
The Bimbilla District Health Director, Stephen Dadia said the districts records about 40 cases of child malnutrition every month.
He said the situation is quite dire and there’s the need to supply the supplements to prevent deaths.
Mr Dadia also suggested that government finds a way to wean itself off the Unicef support because “we cannot continue to depend on international donors.
“If we want to continue to depend on Unicef, I don’t think we can survive,” he added.
Director General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare said the Service is aware of the development, and measures are being put in place to address the situation.
He explained that the situation has come about because "we are a lower middle-income economy and we are being weaned off a lot of the aid we get from our development partners.”
A local food manufacturing company in the Brong Ahafo region has been contracted to produce the supplement moving forward, Dr Nsiah-Asare disclosed.
“We want to reach a stage where we will do it ourselves to solve the problem once and for all, so that we don’t depend on Unicef,” he said, adding that “because if they cut down their aid to Ghana then we have a problem.”
In the interim, Dr Nsiah-Asare said an urgent meeting will be held and by Wednesday, February 14, 2018, the health facilities will receive supplies of the food supplement.