Participants of the multi-sector strategic plan (MSSP) engagement to reduce malnutrition held in Port Loko town
Officials of the Secretariat of Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN), have just concluded a weeklong multi-sector strategic plan (MSSP) in the provinces, which geared towards reducing malnutrition in Sierra Leone.
The SUN Secretariat's officials held meetings in Bo and Bonthe in the Southern Region and Port Loko and Kambia in the North-Western Region, where Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), UN agencies, private and public officials, were in attendance.
In Port Loko town, the Minister of State, North-Western Region, Isata Abdulai-Kamara, said to reduce malnutrition in Sierra Leone involves coordinated approach.
"It requires political will at the highest level. As a country, we are aware that the level of under nutrition remains high among the poor, particularly women and children. As a result, the fight against malnutrition has been fluctuating, the country has not been able to sustain the gains it required. But under this government, several initiatives have been taken to fight against malnutrition," she said.
She noted that a coordinated effort at both national and global level is vital to address malnutrition, adding that through supportive approach on various fronts, the country would move from hunger to hope.
"To reinforce government's commitment in reducing malnutrition, we need to build a strategic partnership and enhance collaboration among various partners," she stated.
In Bonthe and Bo districts, SUN's National Coordinator, Nenneh Bah Jalloh, gave an overview of the importance of the MSSP book, which was launched by Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh in Freetown recently.
She said the MSSP book contains key strategic components such as nutrition specific, nutrition sensitive and nutrition governance, adding that all of the above mentioned are geared towards improving health, food and nutrition in the country.
She encouraged the women to pass on the messages to their various communities and to prioritize agriculture.
"We want farmers to stop selling all that they grow. They should eat what they grow so as to enhance nutrition. We recently saw that President Bio visited his 415 acres of farmland in his hometown of Tihun in the Bonthe district. This is an indication that we should engage in farming to enhance food security for all and sundry," she urged.
Dr. Sulaiman Sowe, United Nations Network (UNN) and Renewed Efforts Against Child Hunger and Under-Nutrition (REACH) Coordinator, said UNN and REACH initiative was relaunched in Sierra Leone in the 2017 to provide technical and financial support to SUN Secretariat.
"Sierra Leone is one of the 61 countries that we are supporting. Nutrition is very much vital because it cut across all sectoral development. It has a link in agriculture, health, productivity and economic prosperity. If a country has lot of malnourished people, there is high risk that it would affect the economy," he noted.
He said investment in nutrition is key to achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) II which calls for the world to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
"Malnutrition causes 15 percent damage of a child's brain. Children with malnutrition achieve less in education because the first 1000 days of a child's development has been destroy by his/her parents. I mean, education and nutrition must work together so that our country's GDP must be realized," he added.
Abu Daffae, Local Government Focal Person, said councils and their partners are giving the SUN Secretariat the needed support.
"The Councils are leaders in service delivery in various districts. They have their development and annual plans, which they renewed every three years. There are SUN Focal Persons in every district. So, as a council, we always give ultimate support to the Secretariat in reducing malnutrition," he noted.
Elizabeth Satta Sengeh, Strategic Communications Coordinator (Office of the President)