The Vice President Alhaji Chief Sam Sumana has presented the former President of Cape Verde, Antonio Manuel Gomes Monterio Mascaranhas to His Excellency Dr Ernest Bai Koroma at the Presidential Lodge, Hill Station. The former President was in Freetown to launch the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement in Sierra Leone. The event brought together national champions including President Ernest Bai Koroma, who was deputised by the Hon. VP Sam Sumana, the First Lady, cabinet ministers, government officials, civil society organisations, the international development community, representatives from the private sector and international friends and partners.
Welcoming the former President and his wife, His Excellency Dr Ernest Bai Koroma said scaling up nutrition will allow us to prioritise the issue of malnutrition in an effort to promote better nutritional practices, especially among children under five and women of childbearing age.
"As you are aware, Sierra Leone has made exceptional strides in reducing child mortality through the implementation of the Free Health Care Initiative," he said. He also mentioned the concerted efforts government has made through the Smallholder Commercialisation Program to empower farmers to farm for business.
The Chief Executive however noted that further engagement was needed to intensify nutrition as a nexus of food security and health care in Sierra Leone.
President Ernest Bai Koroma disclosed that Sierra Leone became a member of the SUN Movement in February 2012 following the development of the National Food and Nutrition Security Policy and it's implementation plan.
"Today's launch will demonstrate my commitment in combating malnutrition and food security," saying it was an opportunity for Sierra Leone to engage with international partners to develop a coordinated and sustainable approach to addressing nutrition in line with our development objectives.
VP Sam Sumana described the SUN programme as a priority of government in the fight against hunger, poverty and malnutrition. He pointed out that malnourishment undermines the normal growth of children and impede their ability to develop into adulthood.
According to First Lady Madam Sia Nyama Koroma, the launch was not only very historic, but a step in the right direction. She said fighting malnutrition was very key to reducing hunger and poverty among poor people. The First Lady also revealed that there is a stabilising centre produced by UNICEF which had been doing extremely well in combating malnutrition among infants and children as well as their mothers by distributing food packs and other supplies.
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Dr Sam Sesay, maintained that availability, affordability and accessibility to food are very key to the overall strategy to achieve food self-sufficiency. He said that accessibility entails economic access, physical access and utilisation. Dr Sesay noted that since Sierra Leone has subscribed to the SUN movement which is a global network, it will open up the country to lots of opportunities, including donor support, technical assistance, policy formulation and other benefits.
He however noted that the Sierra Leone situation has gone beyond the SUN programme as the country is in the process of formulating a national food security framework.
It would be recalled that there are over 1.2 billion malnourished people in the world and the fact that Sierra Leone has joined this programme means a lot insofar as political will was concerned to reduced malnutrition especially among the most vulnerable groups; women and children.