Ms. Joyce Asare Kissi, the Head of the Nutrition Unit of the Tema General Hospital, has cautioned parents against feeding their children porridges containing no nutrients, as it can lead to malnutrition (Kwashiorkor).
Malnutrition is a condition that results from a lack of sufficient nutrients in the body and might cause fatigue, dizziness, and growth-related problems, as well as death in severe cases.
Ms Kissi, speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview, said such porridges, popularly referred to as “koko sakora,” only contain carbohydrates without any other nutrients to support the children’s growing nutritional needs.
She indicated that after exclusive breastfeeding for six months, mothers and caregivers must ensure that they complement feeding with family food that contains all the recommended nutrients for the child to prevent malnutrition and other related illnesses.
The nutritionist said a little palm oil, groundnut paste, fish powder, fruits, vegetables, milk, and others must be added to the porridges and food of the children to provide their growing bodies with nutrients.
She expressed worry that malnutrition, or Kwashiorkor, as it is popularly referred to, still existed among children aged under five years in Ghana due to the lack of proper nutritional feeding of children.
She said her outfit received daily Kwashiorkor cases both from within Tema and surrounding districts, some of which must be admitted as the condition might have resulted in the children getting other medical conditions.
She stressed that malnutrition was a disease that could be cured; however, there is a lot of misconception around it, leading people to seek help from elsewhere and only report to the hospital when the situation had become severe, risking the life of the child.
She therefore advised mothers and caregivers to religiously feed their children with nutritious foods and follow the advice from their caregivers to avoid malnutrition and other nutritionally related sicknesses.
Ms Kissi appealed to relatives, traditional leaders, opinion leaders in the community, religious leaders, and relatives to encourage mothers to take their children to the hospital when they see symptoms of Kwashiorkor in children instead of waiting till it is too late.
She also appealed to non-government institutions and philanthropists to help the Tema General Hospital’s Nutrition Unit with cereals to prepare therapeutic feeds for such malnourished children, as most parents of such children find it difficult to bear the cost of treatment as it is not covered under the National Health Insurance Scheme.