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Cape Coast, 1st June, 2020
A Registered Dietician and Principal Dietician at the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital (CCTH), Mr. Abdul Aziz Muhammad has said that “it is misinformation and miseducation if anyone is told not to consume milk just because the person is hypertensive or diabetic”. He affirmed that it is common knowledge among a lot of people especially in Ghana that once you’re diabetic or hypertensive you’re barred from consuming milk. He said when contributing to a panel discussion on World Milk Day.
Narrating the history that surrounds World Milk Day, the Acting Farm Manager and Animal Husbandry Expert at the University of Cape Coast Teaching and Research Farm, Dr. Ebenezer Nana Gyamera, said the day was set aside by the Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to provide an opportunity to bring attention to activities that are connected with the dairy sector and consumption of milk and milk products. “This celebration has been in existence for 19 years. It was instituted in 2001. Some countries celebrate it as a festival by sharing fresh milk products but for Covid-19 this didn’t happen this year. Today is the 19th edition of the celebration”.
Dr. Ebenezer Nana Gyamera and Mr. Abdul Aziz were speaking to Benjamin Tetteh Nartey on GBC Radio Central Morning Show dubbed Central Morning Show on Monday, 1st June, 2020 which is World Milk Day.
Responding to whether there are types of milk, the Registered Dietician said there are different categories of milk in the world. “We have breast milk, cow milk, goat milk etc and we also have whole milk, skimmed milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk, semi skimmed milk and all these can be consumed and are very good for our health. He added that some types of milk can be consumed based ones health status”. Dr. Gyamera on his part indicated that, the various categories of milk are colour-coded on the supermarket shelves. Internationally, blue, green and red are used to distinguish the various categories of milk based on the fact content. Blue milk is full fat or full cream milk and made for people who like creamy milk and basically made for its great taste as well as rich nutrient content. It is good for children who are actively growing. Green milk is semi-skimmed milk and made for people who like the taste of milk, but don’t want to put on weight. It still tastes nice and it is healthier. Red milk is made for people with diabetes or people who are dieting. It is very watery and tastes very watery. This is because it is much healthier for its designed purpose.
He further averred that milk is “good for people of all ages, especially, children. It is in that view that babies are expected to be fed exclusively on (breast) milk for up to 6 months and from age zero to 6 month, the child’s weight is expected to have doubled”. Milk contains fat, vitamins, carbohydrates, and that makes it good for children, Mr. Aziz added.
The Animal Husbandry Expert Dr. Ebenezer Nana Gyamera touching on the production of milk across the globe said “One of his professors told him any country that wants to develop and does that at the expense of milk production isn’t yet serious to develop”. India, China, USA and Pakistan are the largest producers of milk in the world. He continued that in some countries, milk is used to prepare beverages instead of water”. He explained further that “when fat is removed from milk we get skimmed milk. Almost all toffees that taste good are milk based”. He further added that milk has some properties that assist in healing after injury and when applied or eaten it helps to reduce the scare on anyone after injury and reduces its effects. However, in Ghana, milk production is problematic and Nigeria does better than Ghana in milk production. He continued that, there are breeds of cattle for milk production and others for meat production but unfortunately this particular breed isn’t enough in Ghana”. Secondly, the dairy breeds kept in Ghana are underfed and improperly managed, therefore, the underproduction.
When asked what is militating against milk production in our country, the Acting Farm Manager stated that Wankam Farms is the only dairy farm in the Central Region. He further stated that policy issues of government is the major factor affecting milk production, lack of knowledge on the part of producers and the third is lack of interest in the consumption of fresh milk. “We spend about $200 million on the importation of milk and milk products into our country annually” he posited.
Mr. Abdul Aziz, a Dietician adding his voice also blamed the lack of adequate milk production in Ghana partly on policy issues and also on media. He quizzed: “How many people even know this day is the World Milk Day?” He pleaded with the media to help publicize such celebrations.
Outlining the benefits of taking milk, the Registered Dietician said “milk is complete protein, has essential amino acids which are not produced by the human body but milk has all these nutrients.” If you want your child to develop well, then feed him/her on milk. “Vitamin ‘E’ is available in milk which helps in skin development and improves our immune system.” “Vitamin ‘D’ and calcium are also found in milk which when consumed helps humans a lot”.
He waded into the controversy that seeks to suggest that diabetic or hypertensive patients should stay away from milk consumption.. “If you’re diabetic or hypertensive, potassium which is found in milk can help reduce the pressure but you must consume skimmed milk”. Also, he added that selenium (a micro nutrient found in milk) is good for such individuals with high blood pressure and/or diabetes. “It helps to reduce pressure for older people as well as children to develop and grow well. “Vitamin ‘C’ is also available in milk which can help boost ones immune system in this Covid-19 era when we are being encouraged to eat to boost our immune system”.
When asked about how we can improve the production and consumption of milk in Ghana, Dr. Gyamera said according to “WHO every person must consume at least 120 kilograms of milk in year”. However, the per capital milk consumption of Ghanaians is far less. He suggested that regular education on the benefits of milk consumption, development of appropriate policy on the production and consumption of milk and education of dairy farmers as major ways of overcoming the low production and consumption of milk and milk products in Ghana.
In summing up on the discussion, the Acting Farm Manager of UCC said the doors of the School of Agriculture, University of Cape Coast are opened to train people in milk production and he appealed to the Regional Minister, Hon. Kwamena Duncan to be thinking about sourcing for funding to develop the dairy industry in the Central Region of Ghana since the region had the potential for milk production. Mr. Aziz, on the other hand, added that the media can help in this regard and with time most of the populace would consume a lot more milk. “And in this Covid-19 era all of us should try to eat some fruits, vegetables and milk to help boost our immune system”.