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University of Ghana disputes ‘evil intent’ tag on Accra Urban Adolescent Nutrition Study’

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The Management of the School of Public Health of the University of Ghana, Legon has called on the general public to unequivocally disregard the misinformation making rounds on social media and within the public domain claiming it is intended to put the ‘Accra Urban Adolescent Nutrition Study’ it is currently conducting in a bad light. 

According to management, the attempt by some unscrupulous individuals to tarnish the school’s image only amounts to nothing but a sheer malice which does not augur well for advancement of knowledge as a basis of research therefore ought to be condemned in no uncertain terms.

Speaking at a press briefing held on Friday October 29, to set the records straight, Professor Richmond Aryeetey, the Project Lead, Ghana School of Public Health observed his outfit is poised to help provide any information that is required on the research to help clear the minds of people on doubt in order to put the issues to rest.

He therefore challenged the general public to endeavor to approach the school and seek clarity on the entire study to be well informed.

Prof. Aryeetey also stressed that the study does not recruit just anyone for inclusion but the adolescents who meet clear inclusion criteria for age, location, and consent.

He further posited that the devices and procedures are not intended to harm the children in any way, adding, “It is false that the devices given in the study are being used to track/monitor the children with ill-intent”.

“On the contrary, the findings of the study are intended to inform national policy and programmes on adolescent nutrition in Ghana”, he emphatically stated.

Three (3) parents of the participants who were invited to share their experiences on the study equally testified that the intention behind study is beneficial, devoid of any evil intent as being speculated and admitted their children are in good condition since undergoing  the research.

Victoria, mother of a female participant explained: “When they gave the device to her she wore it and nothing happened to her. She was wearing it to school and she has been bringing it back home till they did the lab test for them at a nearby school. Everything went on well and she didn’t have any problem”.

It would be recalled that the University woke up to a news of uncertainty backed by misinformation seeking to denigrate the study while at it’s implementation stage.

This was after a demeaning video portraying some students wearing an accelerometer and GPS devices beneath their pants purported to have been taken by a teacher and shared publicly went viral on social media and generated public uproar

The Accra Urban Adolescent Nutrition Study is a joint initiative of the University of Ghana and the International Food Policy Research Institute which seeks to define the nutritional status, dietary intake, physical activity patterns, and food environment of about 1,000 adolescents (ages 12-19 years) from low- and middle-class households in 10 selected neighbourhoods in the Greater Accra Region.

The selected communities include Chorkor, Abelemkpe, South La, New Mamprobi, Achimota, Old Nungua, West Legon, Kokomlemle, New Town, and Nungua.

The study has been approved and is supported by the Noguchi memorial Institute for Medical Research’s Institutional Review Board, the Ghana Health Service, and the Ghana Education Service.

Touching on the intricacies of the entire research project, Professor Richmond Aryeetey explained: “

“The study has two main components: 1. A community-based component involving interviews with adolescents and their parents/guardians and will involve laboratory sample collection, and diet analysis. During this time, they will be given a belt fixed with a device (accelerometer and GPS) to collect data on their physical activity and movement trajectories over a seven-day period. The participants will be expected to wear the belt with the devices under their school uniform to school during school days”.

“2. A School-based component involving interviews with school heads to understand the school food environment (food vending, food provisioning, school policy of food, food advertising and promotion on the school compound, etc.).”

In line with international best practices and ethics of human subject’s research, every child who participates must have both the parent/caregiver and the child give written informed consent and assent (that is their permission) for the household to be eligible for the study.

Participation in the study is completely voluntary. Further, children who participate, first provide information on their diet in the past 24-hours. They are then handed the accelerometer and GPS devices to wear over the course of a 7-day period, except when they are sleeping.

During the 7-day period, the adolescents are invited to a central location in the community where trained biomedical scientists take a small amount of blood sample for laboratory assessment of their nutrient status.

Source:Joseph Wemakor|Ghana24.org

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