Providing Measurement, Evaluation, Accountability, and Leadership Support (MEALS) for Non-communicable Diseases Prevention in Ghana: Project Implementation Protocol
Frontiers in Nutrition
Background: This study describes the rationale, adaptation, and final protocol of a project developed to address the increase in obesity and nutrition-related non-communicable diseases (NR-NCDs) in Ghana. Code-named the Measurement, Evaluation, Accountability, and Leadership Support for NCDs (MEALS4NCDs) project, it aims to measure and support public sector actions that create healthy food marketing, retail, and provisioning environments for Ghanaian children using adapted methods from the International Network for Food and Obesity/NCDs Research Monitoring and Action Support (INFORMAS). Methods: The protocol for this observational study draws substantially from the INFORMAS' Food Promotion and Food Provision Modules. However, to appraise the readiness of local communities to implement interventions with strong potential to improve food environments of Ghanaian children, the MEALS4NCDs protocol has innovatively integrated a local community participatory approach based on the community readiness model (CRM) into the INFORMAS approaches. The setting is Ghana, and the participants include health and nutrition policy-makers, nutrition and food service providers, consumers, school authorities, and pupils of Ghanaian basic schools. Results: The study establishes a standardized approach to providing implementation science evidence for the prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Ghana. It demonstrates feasibility and the innovative application of the INFORMAS expanded food promotion and food provision modules, together with the integration of the CRM in a lower-middle income setting. Conclusion: The research will facilitate the understanding of the processes through which the INFORMAS approach is contextualized to a lower-middle income African context. The protocol could be adapted for similar country settings to monitor relevant aspects of food environments of children.
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International Development Research Centre