Professor Saa Dittoh, a Former Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University for Development Studies (UDS) has stated that nutrition is the main determinant of development and not Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as being championed by Economists.
He said development of any type could only be achieved by the brain or the muscle and emphasized that both the brain and the muscle were critically determined by nutrition making it the main determinant of development and none other else.
Prof. Dittoh who said this while delivering a presentation on the topic “Investing in Nutrition for Sustainable Development” during the Upper West Regional Nutrition Review and Advocacy Meeting in Wa stated that any country that threw away nutrition actually throws away its chances of developing.
He said he was yet to see a developed nation that had a problem with nutrition, adding that the developed countries were the Scandinavian countries and that they took nutrition seriously.
“If the woman is malnourished, our future is finished and that is why emphasis in maternal nutrition is so important”, he said.
The Former Pro-Vice Chancellor of UDS noted that unfortunately the ignorance on malnutrition in the country was very clear from the very top to the very bottom, adding that this was very clear with how successive governments handled nutrition issues.
He emphasized that due to the high level of ignorance about the importance of nutrition to development, budgetary allocation for nutrition was always an afterthought at all levels.
Prof. Dittoh pointed out that the real problem with nutrition and development was with the Economists who according to him have hijacked development and were pushing it towards a very unsustainable direction.
These Economists understood development in terms of GDP growth and the emergence of physical structures and not human development which is critically determined by nutrition, he said.
He also stated that the country’s educational system itself was so deficient of the basic things needed for survival, adding that agriculture students that were supposed to produce food were not even taught nutrition in their various colleges and universities.
Prof. Dittoh therefore recommended that if the country was really serious about increasing nutrition, then, coordination of food and nutrition interventions must be at the Presidency adding that all countries that were making headway in nutrition had their nutrition units at the Presidency.
He added that hunger and malnutrition could be eliminated in Ghana but required good understanding of the central role of nutrition in development by the top political elite and political commitment.
He stressed on the need for good understanding and commitment by district and community level implementers, adding that Food Nutrition Security (FNS) was so critical that its funding could not be left to donors and well wishers.
Prof. Dittoh further added that food production could not be dependent on imported inputs and knowledge, saying that way was unsustainable.
Mr. Eric Banye, the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) Country Programme Coordinator stressed on the importance of nutrition and said the country could be sitting on a time bomb if it did not prioritize its nutrition interventions.
He said if the current approach to nutrition issues is not changed, the country would soon be producing only nutrition deficient children who would be expected to manage the affairs of the country in the next decade.