Accra- Ghana (PANA) -- The Director General of the Ghana Health Service, Agyeman Badu Akosa, Friday in Accra described the high malnutrition rate in the country as "unacceptably," with under-nutrition causing 50 percent of deaths in children.
He said with good nutrition such deaths could be prevented.
Akosa said the proportion of underweight children below five years of age in the country, rose from 22 to 28 percent between 1993 and 2003, while those with stunted growth increased from 26 to 30 percent.
"This means that close to one out of every three children in this country is suffering from the effects of long-term or periodic inadequate food intake," the Minister explained.
He also said a study conducted among the elderly in Accra showed a high prevalence of malnutrition of 48 percent, due mainly to lack of money to buy food.
Another source of worry is the phenomenon of street children who could not feed themselves adequately, with their increasing numbers contributing to the soaring rate of malnutrition in children.
Akosa said deficiencies of important minerals and vitamins were also very common among women and children.
According to him, anaemia, caused mainly by iron deficiency, affected nearly 77 percent of children under five and about 45 percent of Ghanaian women in the childbearing age.
Vitamin A deficiency affected 72 percent of children under five and caused one out of three of all child deaths between the ages of six and 59 months, the Minister revealed.
"It is estimated that the number of child deaths attributed to vitamin A deficiency will be 86,000 between 2001 and 2005.
This means that Ghana has been experiencing 17,200 deaths annually (from this condition)," Akosa noted.
People who are iodine-deficient are usually mentally slower, difficult to motivate and less productive, he said, adding that with goitre prevalence of over 18 percent, Ghana loses one percent of its Gross National Product (GDP) annually.