Another month, another celebration of an individual or organization extending their selfless services to humanity in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. This time TheAfricanDream.net’s Heroes of COVID-19 recognizes the passion and humanitarian services of Public Health Nutritionist of St. Joseph Hospital in the Nkwanta South Community of the Oti Region of Ghana, Mr. Francis Danso.
We are delighted here at TheAfricanDream.net for the opportunity to bring to light and celebrate Mr. Danso’s passion for addressing the nutritional needs of the vulnerable in the Nkwanta South community where he has worked for eight years as its Public Health Nutritionist.
Mr. Danso upon setting himself on a quest to improve the nutritional needs of his community decided to found Cure Children Under Five Years to support poor parents with sick or malnourished children with food during their admission to the health facility he works at. Besides a square meal, support came in the for of full or partial payment of their medical bills. Francis revealed to TheAfricanDream.net that 45% of deaths among children less than 5 years of age are linked to undernutrition.
In Ghana, 1 in 3 children under 5 years is either undernourished or overweight and one in every five children under 5 years is stunted. Malnutrition has ignited a global burden with a lasting negative impact on individuals and their families in communities, Nkwanta South not being an exception.
Why the formation of Cure Children Under Five Years
Speaking passionately about the formation of his foundation, Mr. Danso said “About three years ago I took an initiative to set up a small foundation I called ‘Cure Children Under Five Years’ to mobilize efforts and create awareness for the fight against infant malnutrition. I started with 20 of my colleagues to help malnourished children get a balanced diet to eat by donating some funds to support such hungry and malnourished children.“
As a measure to ensure sustainability the Nutritionist and his friends empowered the mothers of their beneficiaries to either go into farming or set them up in a small trade to enable them to raise money to feed their families.
Here at TheAfricanDream.net we feel it is worth celebrating Francis and his colleagues as our COVID-19 Heroes for May 2021 because the support system they created through the foundation has still been running effectively, providing food and cash supports to some 150 families even under the sharp teeth of the pandemic. “This pandemic has increased the number of malnourished children and more families need food support in most of the poorest and deprived communities of Ghana. On the good side, the foundation has reduced the mortality rate of children under 5 years due to malnutrition, from 70% to 20% in just under 2 years,” said Mr. Danso.
Undoubtedly, Mr. Danso is a problem-solver and believes strongly that every problem can be solved provided we pay attention to details and collaborate with others. He has exhibited such skills in setting up a Tuberculosis (TB) chest clinic in the St. Joseph hospital at a time when cases of TB were surging in the community, this has mitigated the spread of the disease and enhanced treatment for its patients.
Despite the advent of COVID-19 and accompanying stress, he marches on
Ghana recorded its first case of COVID-19 in March 2020 in its capital city of Accra and the government declared a lockdown as a measure to reduce the spread. Speaking to TheAfricanDream.net correspondent Clifford Benjamin Oppong in Ghana, Mr. Danso said he really felt the weight of COVID-19 during the lockdown, sharing that “I started feeling the pinch of COVID-19 when the lockdown was imposed. My mom who is staying in Accra was not able to go to work again.”
As a result of this, the Nutritionist took upon himself the job of providing more sustenance for his mother: “I have to send the family money every month for their upkeep. Other external family relatives also needed help from me. I was so stressed by this, besides the added stress already from work. I was previously supporting two or three people a month but suddenly that increased to 10 a week which was suddenly overwhelming…” said Mr. Danso.
The advent of COVID-19 increased the number of beneficiaries of the Cure Children Under Five Years, which brought financial burden to the foundation that relies on member funding. To cater to this matter, the foundation resorted to online fundraising platforms to raise funds to support its operations. But they could have thrown in the towel and caved under pressures and not be blamed too much, yet the foundation’s core people decided to ride the storm and stick to its commitment, something TheAfricanDream.net feels is a mark of excellence in the face of difficulties and great service to humanity.
Their funding campaign dubbed Feed A Child is aimed at supporting some 500 malnourished children and other hungry families in the most deprived villages of Ghana with food and cash, and empowering mothers with basic vocational skills such as soap making and sewing of nose masks among other enterprising ventures that will enable them to provide for themselves subsequently.
Kindly email Francis Danso with firstname.lastname@example.org and check him out on LinkedIn using the following link to support his work or just encourage his efforts: www.linkedin.com/in/francis-danso-50918158.
Written by Oral Ofori & Clifford Benjamin Oppong