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Japan Improving nutritional status of young children and mothers in Sierra Leone

June 16, 2017

As they continue to torch the lives of vulnerable Sierra Leoneans through the Japanese Government funded project, World Food Programme  (WFP), in collaboration with UNICEF, Community Action for the Welfare of Children, and other partners, is supporting the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to treat Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) in children aged 6-59 months, and in pregnant and lactating women in the country.

 According to Fortune Maduma, Nutritionist at the World Food Programme in Sierra Leone, the program was being implemented in Port loko, Kambia, Kenema and Bonthe respectively, adding  that those areas were selected based on high malnutrition and food insecurity levels.

“In Sierra Leone, acute malnutrition is a major risk factor for child deaths, and is the underlying cause of up to 45 percent of child deaths among children aged under five years. This program aims to help PLW and children to recover from malnutrition, reduce child deaths and improve birth outcomes,” he said.

He said in 2016, a total number of twenty nine thousand, two hundred and sixty three (29,263) PLW and 32,738 children were enrolled into the MAM treatment program and WFP provided a supplementary food in the form of Super cereal PLUS, a highly nutritious corn-soya blend fortified with milk, vitamins and minerals, to each enrolled child for an average period of 3 months.

He said WFP also provided a food ration composed of Super cereal and fortified vegetable oil for pregnant and lactating women for a maximum period of 6 months, adding that those highly nutritious foods were helping to address the macro and micro nutrient deficiencies common among beneficiaries,hence ensuring nutrition recovery.

He further that in consideration of the high number of teenage pregnancies, WFP was also supporting teenage mothers regardless of their nutrition status.

He disclosed that currently, four thousand six hundred and forty- seven (4,647) teenage mothers were receiving nutrition support across the four districts.

He said the treatment of MAM program has a very high success rate, with more than 95% of beneficiaries recovering from malnutrition within 2-3 months, while only less than 1 percent defaults from the program.

“WFP and UNICEF are working closely together to ensure that our interventions are coordinated and no child is left behind. By treating moderate acute malnutrition, WFP is preventing children from slipping into severe acute malnutrition, which has a higher risk of mortality. For every child suffering from severe acute malnutrition, there are eight or ten suffering from moderate acute malnutrition,” he said.

He continued that with support from the People of Japan, WFP was also implementing a stunting prevention through the stunting project in Moyamba district.

He added that stunting is irreversible as it affects a child’s health, brain development, school performance and future earnings and that it also puts children at a higher risk of dying from infectious diseases than other children.

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