December 11, 2015 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
As 2015 draws to an end, the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Secretariat, in the Office of the Vice President, yesterday held their end of year strategic meeting to reflect successes and challenges in 2014 and 2015 and to discuss the way forward in 2016.
National Coordinator of SUN, Dr. Mohamed Foh, said the meeting brought together multiple stakeholders to chat about their successes and challenges of 2015 and plan the way forward in 2016.
He said nutrition could be considered a national crisis for women and children in the country, adding that the meeting was to give visibility to nutrition solutions and help save lives of women and children living in Sierra Leone.
He said the secretariat was working in coordination with line ministries, including the Ministry of Finance, Agriculture, Fisheries, and Education, and coordinating with civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations and the private sector to avoid conflict of interest and work for development. He paid homage to Irish Aid and the United Nations for their support to the SUN secretariat.
Speaking on behalf of the United Nations, Margret Wagah, Chief Technical Adviser at the Food and Agricultural Organisation, said the meeting was very important for them, adding that nutrition was for many years a complex issue in the country. He said that despite what the secretariat has achieved there was still more to do in scaling up nutrition in the country, especially in the area of co-ordination.
In his keynote address and launch of a musical video by United Artist for SUN, Director-General of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation, Dr. Gbanabom Hallowell described the meeting as significant as it would help improve nutrition and reduce malnutrition in the country.
He said over the years many women and children had been affected by malnutrition, adding that the establishment of the SUN secretariat meant that the latter would be saved from malnutrition, and called on Sierra Leoneans to be eating more fruit instead of rice.
SUN is a global push for action and investment to improve maternal and child nutrition. Evidence shows that proper nutrition during the first one thousand days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday gives children a healthy start in life, while poor nutrition during this period could lead to irreversible consequences such as stunted growth and impaired cognitive development. Improving nutrition is a precondition to achieving goals of eradicating poverty and hunger, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating disease, according to nutrition experts.