Growing up in an area which could best be described as an ‘urban poor’, I was struck by the fact that there was a mixture of undernutrition and overnutrition in the same communities. One could tell that children who were undernourished came from the most poor households. Little did I know that there was a complex interaction of both biological and social factors driving these phenomena. I wanted to be a doctor so I could help, but I ended up studying nutrition.
My first encounter with public health nutrition was as an undergraduate in a university at the north of Ghana where I was studying for a BSc in community nutrition. As part of the training I did several community attachments and placements, sometimes living and working with local people, including in areas without electricity and running water, together with other students in my year. We held focus group discussions with community elders and members. We did growth monitoring, health education, nutritional rehabilitation, immunisations and several surveys.
From these experiences, I discovered that promoting health and preventing ill-health in communities through nutrition created the conditions for economic growth and development. I was also awed as I saw a mixed of social inequalities and biological factors as paths that could only lead to children not meeting their full potential. I realised that influencing policies, programmes and decision making at the highest level of society would have a stronger impact, not only on individual communities but the nation as a whole. My desire to study public health nutrition may have been born at this point.
Now that I’ve obtained a PhD and am looking forward to the future, I am committed to making a difference in the lives of local communities through research meant to lead to programmes that will impact favourably on human health and well-being. I believe that nutrition leadership is important, and I look forward to making nutrition part of the national agenda in Ghana, and globally. I believe public health nutrition is one of the most cost-effective approaches to improve health in many resource-poor settings such as so many in Africa, including my own background.
BSc degree in community nutrition in Ghana and thereafter studied at the University of Southampton for my MSc in public health nutrition and a PhD with a focus in nutrition and HIV infection. Currently, I work as a research fellow with the International Malnutrition Task Force of the International Union of Nutrition Sciences at the University of Southampton. Previously, I worked in Ghana as district nutrition officer for the Nanumba district health management team of the Ghana health service and as a research assistant at the University for Development Studies, Tamale, Ghana. I am a member of the African Graduate Nutrition Students Network and an African Nutrition Leadership Programme graduate.