The Bole District Directorate of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), has held a stakeholders’ meeting over the implementation of the Girls’-Folate Tablet Supplementation (GIFTS) Programme in Bole.
GIFTS, a public health intervention, is designed to provide adolescent girls with free weekly Iron and Folic Acid (IFA) supplements, to help prevent and reduce reported high prevalence of iron-deficiency anaemia among girls in that age bracket in schools.
It is a collaboration between the Ghana Health Service (GHS ) and the Ghana Education Service (GES) with funding from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Mr. Kenneth Kpankpari, the Bole District Nutritional Officer, said the goal of the programme is to stem the incidence among the target group–girls between 10 and 19 years.
He said available statistics of iron-deficiency anaemia cases in women generally recorded in health facilities in the District in the year 2020-2021 indicated a rising trend and the target group had been earmarked as the critical mass for the intervention.
“What has informed the selection of this age group is their susceptibility due to their monthly discharge”, he added.
Again, they would soon start the reproductive life and so need to be healthy by way of proper nutrition and blood boosting supplementation, as this would always raise their haemoglobin levels, to remove all the risk associated with performing that biological function”, he said.
Mr Kenneth throwing more light on the GIFTS, said the programme was a collaborative initiative between GHS, GES and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and other key partners to weekly provide iron and folic acid supplements to adolescents who were either in or out of school.
He indicated that during adolescence, there was rapid growth and development which required more blood, coupled with monthly loss of blood due to menstruation necessitated the administering of the GIFTS as iron and folic acid were two important nutrients needed to form and replace lost blood to prevent anaemia.
According to Mr Kenneth, children already affected with anaemia were not part of the supplementation programme, explaining that the supplementation was only meant to boost the system against anemia.
Mr Apraku Martin, School Health Education Programme (SHEP) Coordinator for the Bole District Education Directorate, on his part said education on the initiative had been intensified especially among the in-school adolescents to dispel some false impression about the GIFTS.
Speaking on behalf of the Bole District Director of Education, Mr Jamani Bakari, called upon all stakeholders to help dispel misconceptions impeding the implementation of the Girl’s Iron-Folate Tablets Supplementation (GIFTS) Programme in the District.
He urged all stakeholders to collaborate effectively to ensure the success of the programme in the District for girls to reap the benefits.
All stakeholders are encouraged to play active roles in the implementation of the programme to achieve the desired results, Mr Jamani said.
The meeting was attended by representatives from the Ghana Education Service (GES), the Ghana Health Service (GHS), traditional and religious leaders as well as civil society organisations.