Understanding the health and nutritional status of children in Ghana

Type Journal Article - Agricultural Economics
Title Understanding the health and nutritional status of children in Ghana
Volume 17
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 1997
Page numbers 59-74
The data set of the Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS, round 1, 1987/1988) was utilized to analyse the principal determinants (publicly and privately) of health and nutrition of children under five in Ghana. While in most health and nutrition studies the emphasis is either on health-related factors such as occurrence of illness, immunization, accessibility to light (electricity), the role of breastfeeding, or on food availability and food-consumption-related factors, in the present study, an attempt has been made to incorporate both aspects simultaneously. On the basis of the GLSS, Ghanaian households spend at the average approximately 60% of total expenses on food. Changes in relative prices of the various food commodities differently affect household food availability. Lowering prices of relatively cheap foods (e.g., millet, cassava) tends to have a strong positive effect on total household kcal availability. At the level of the household, the absolute number of nondependents, presumed to represent the available labour force, is positively correlated with household food availability. There is also a positive correlation between the mothers' level of education (10 yrs of schooling and above) and the nutrition level of children. Occurrence of illness in children could be shown to negatively affect their health and nutrition status. Finally, a specific finding in the analysis was a rather strong negative effect of prolonged breastfeeding on the nutritional status of children. Among the policy recommendations emanating from the research are: (1) promotion of efficient production and marketing of cassava, (2) efforts to achieve slowing down of rural-urban migration to prevent labour shortages in rural households, (3) improving water and sanitation conditions, (4) expanding immunization programmes in particular in rural areas, and (5) promoting better weaning practices when children are no longer fully

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