GES bans the sale of these drinks in schools

GES bans the sale of these drinks in schools

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The Eastern Regional Education Directorate has banned the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages and fizzy drinks in schools.

The decision follows a staggering revelation of health consequences among schoolchildren.

Speaking to Starr FM on the sidelines of a joint press conference by the Eastern Regional Education and Health Directorates on Wednesday in Koforidua on nutritional challenges among schoolchildren, Eric Sakyi, Regional Head of Inspectorate at GES, said fruit days have been instituted in various schools to encourage parents to provide fruits to their children to supplement their diets.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Regional Health and Education directorates, with support from UNICEF, have initiated a Nutrition-friendly School initiative (NFSI) in 130 selected basic schools in 26 municipalities and districts to promote healthy eating habits among the students through the support.

Eastern Regional Health Director Dr. Winfred Ofosu explained during the joint press conference that there has been a decline in malnutrition among children under five years over the years; however, there is a significant increase in malnutrition among schoolchildren and adolescents.

Despite a steady decline in most malnutrition indicators at the national level, Ghana is confronted with the triple burden of malnutrition, overweight/obesity, and micronutrient deficiencies, particularly among schoolchildren and adolescents.

He said, “Poor dietary practices, including intake of high sugar, high-fat diets, sweets, and other foods of poor nutritional value, adding, skipping of meals and physical inactivity both at school and in the home are major contributory factors to the current increasing trends of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)”.

The program is structured by the Family Health Division of the Ghana Health Service in collaboration with UNICEF and the Ghana Education Service (GES) to deliver simple health and nutrition interventions to schoolchildren.

The existing minimum packages for the initiative include access to healthy and nutritious foods, which ensures that caterers who provide school meals develop and cook meals from a menu chart developed in line with the four-star (4****) diet.

“The menu chart should be available in the school for reference.” School authorities should ensure caterers mount food on well-covered tables and food is covered to prevent flies and dust from settling on it; provide a clean environment for eating with adequate hand washing facilities,” Dr. Winfred said.

The intervention ensures that school authorities encourage parents to avoid putting fizzy drinks and sugary foods/snacks into their children’s lunch boxes.

Schools should promote healthy eating, including the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and iron-rich foods, through nutrition education. They are also to institute fruit and vegetable days (1-3 times a week) to encourage the consumption of fruits and vegetables by students. Schools are to institute protein day once every week to promote the consumption of a variety of proteins by students.

Also, the project enjoins schools to provide play spaces for physical activities.

“Schools should also ensure that physical education is taught well on a class basis as indicated on the timetable. Schools should institute one- to two-minute aerobic activities during lessons. Creating a green environment: Schools should ensure fruit trees and vegetables are planted on school compounds for beautification, windbreakers, and consumption.”

Additionally, the Ghana Health Service and Ghana Education Service, in collaboration with MMDAs in Eastern Region, have been implementing several strategies and programs aimed at improving the nutrition and health of adolescents.

Prominent among these are “addressing Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in schools such as the construction of toilet facilities, provision of pipe-borne water and veronica buckets, menstrual Hygiene Management which includes the provision of changing room for girls.

The Ghana Girls Iron Folate Tablet Supplementation (GIFTS) seeks to prevent anaemia among adolescent girls in and out of school and annual school deworming exercise.”

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