By 2030, non-communicable diseases are predicted to become the leading cause of death in Africa amidst prevailing challenges of infectious diseases, undernutrition, and micronutrient deficiencies. Unhealthy food environments hinder progress in overcoming this double burden of malnutrition. There is increasing evidence for and recognition of the effectiveness of a set of policies that change consumer food environments and enable more nutritious diets. Food systems and public health experts, including the World Health Organisation, refer to them as “Best Buys” for their cost-effectiveness and feasibility for combating the double burden of malnutrition in low- and middle-income countries. Together, these policies aim to inform and empower; guide and influence; incentivize or discourage consumer action within their food environments. These are achieved through bold and truthful information for all consumers; healthier food availability in public institutions and markets and adjusting the relative price of foods to equitably promote health and economic value. Globally, an increasing number of countries are implementing these policies, although few from Africa have done so to date. Recent food systems analysis and dialogues among high-level government and other food systems stakeholders in Ghana have led to consensus on policy action. At the recent United Nations Food Systems Summit, the Ghanaian President made among the boldest of commitments to food systems change. This project will respond to this readiness for action by building evidence and mobilizing multi-stakeholder action toward a policy bundle for healthier and more equitable consumer food environments that reduce the double burden of malnutrition. A coalition of government agencies (Ministry of Health, Food and Drugs Authority, National Development Planning Commission), Academia (University of Ghana) and Civil Society (Coalition of Actors for Public Health Advocacy) will collaborate through four work packages that will establish the evidence, tools, policy pathways and evaluation to enable the political commitments and food systems change to be realized.
To build evidence and mobilize multi-stakeholder actions toward a policy bundle for healthier and more equitable consumer food environments that reduce the double burden of malnutrition.
Project Specific Objectives
Specifically, the project seeks to:
- Develop, validate, and build consensus for a fit-for-local-purpose nutrient profiling system that allows for open, transparent categorization of foods and the determination of how policies will apply to locally available foods in Ghana.
- Generate and synthesise gender-responsive evidence on the impacts of policy actions aimed at equitably shifting the relative price, availability, procurement and marketing of healthy and unhealthy foods.
- Facilitate understanding of pathways for effective policy adoption, implementation and monitoring of outcomes for changing consumer food environments.
- Mobilise and strengthen the capacity of a coalition of public, private and social sector stakeholders critical to the effective development and implementation of evidence-based food environment policies.
- Strengthen collaboration and sharing of evidence and experience regionally in order to set food policy standards for African nations that may be followed or improved upon