‘Malnutrition remains a significant public health concern’ 

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-UNICEF Country Rep

July 25, 2018

By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

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Country Representative of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Hamid EL-Bashir, has observed that malnutrition remains a significant public health concern in Sierra Leone, and that it is a pressing development issue with nearly half a million children in the country suffering from stunting – consequences they will feel over their lifetime.

He was speaking yesterday at Hill Valley Hotel in Freetown during a validation workshop of the 2018 and 2023 ‘Food and Nutrition Security Implementation Plan.

He said good nutrition forms the cornerstone of development and that it would be critical to address malnutrition through holistic approach, which will help stem the cause and lift the burden from Sierra Leone so that all children could optimally develop and thrive into adulthood.

EL-Bashir said the national food and nutrition security implementation plan is a five-year roadmap that will guide all stakeholders in the country in meeting their goal of reducing malnutrition.

He noted that the document is the first implementation plan on food and nutrition security that recognises the importance of addressing malnutrition through a multi-sector approach.

He said the plan also acknowledges that causes of malnutrition are multi-factorial and that addressing it requires multi-sectorial effort and collaboration.

Welcoming participants from across the country, National Coordinator of Scaling Up Nutrition Secretariat, Dr.
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Mohamed Foh, said malnutrition poses a challenge to national development.

He told participants that the event was final validation workshop for the approved Country Implementation Plan and that the government commissioned an international consultant to revise the expired national food and nutrition security implementation plan 2013 to 2017 and to update it for the period 2018 to 2023.

Declaring the workshop open on behalf of the Vice President, Assistant to Secretary of the Vice President, Haja Ramatu Kamara, said when the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement was launched in Sierra Leone in October 2012, it was generally adopted that malnutrition is a major problem in the country, especially for women and children under five.

She said malnutrition negatively affects health statistics because maternal and infant mortality rates are closely related to the condition.

She noted that success in the fight against hunger and malnutrition will reduce maternal and infant mortality in the country.

“Our children’s ability to learn will increase, and thus our human resource base as a nation will be strengthened. That is why the experts tell us that reducing malnutrition has a positive impact on national development,” she said.