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SUN Strategy to Reduce Malnutrition:

Sierra Leone showcases Mother-to-Mother Support Group Model in Rome

DECEMBER 5, 2014

Four Sierra Leoneans have returned home from the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement Global Gathering in Rome where they showcased the success story of the Mother-to-Mother Support Group Model in reducing child malnutrition.

Dr. Mohamed Foh, National Coordinator of the SUN Movement, Office of the Vice President; Ms. Aminata Shamit Koroma, Director, Directorate of Food and Nutrition, Ministry of Health and Sanitation; Mr. Mohamed Ajuba Sheriff, Deputy Director, Directorate of Planning and Evaluation, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security; and Dr Sarian Kamara, Deputy Chief Medical Officer attended the 2014 SUN Movement Global Gathering of over 300 participants from 54 SUN countries. The governments of these countries are supported by organizations that prioritize investments in nutrition.

At this year’s SUN Movement Global Gathering in Rome, Sierra Leone was among five countries selected to share a success story that has contributed to reducing malnutrition. Sierra Leone presented the Mother-to-Mother Support Group Model that is in line with the vision of the National Nutrition Policy.

The vision of the Sierra Leone National Nutrition Policy is to have “A well-nourished and healthy population with communities and families well informed and empowered to take appropriate action on their food and nutrition situation” through effective community innovation, to larger geographical areas and in a more lasting manner. That is why SUN is a learning process which mobilizes rural community resources, agents, and capacities at the local and country levels, and makes it more sustainable.

This model involves training of Community Health Workers, identifying a Lead Mother to head the Mother Support Group (MSG) of nine to fifteen members.  Each community MSG  brings together mothers to undertake the activities such as: household visits; cooking demonstrations; promote food diversification; promote use of  iodised salt; Gardening to promote locally grown crops – manure and its use, demonstration plots; WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) promotion, Waste management Mobilization and Involvement of other groups; Reproductive health; promotion of Infant and Young Child Feeding practices; Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition (IMAM); Fund raising activities; vocational skills such as soap making; garri production etc.

Achievements in the MSG model have positively impacted malnutrition in Sierra Leone from the following SMART survey results for children under five:

In 2010 wasting was 6.9%. In 2014 it has been reduced to 4.7%. In 2010 Children underweight was 18.7%. In 2014 it was reduced to 12.9%. In 2010 stunting was 34.1%. This was reduced in 2014 to 28.8%. In 2010 breast feeding was 32%. In 2014 it has increased to 58.8%.

A significant advantage of the MSG is that families and communities take ownership of the health and wellbeing of children in their communities. It also improves uptake of breastfeeding, complementary feeding practices and improved nutrition status. A Mother-to-Mother Support Group creates a safe environment of respect, attention, sincerity and empathy. It strengthens knowledge and skills of women and through this, nutrition knowledge are contextualized. Therefore capacity at community level is scaled up. Because of its success in reducing child malnutrition it has been highly recommended to strengthen this model in all districts.

The 2014 “SUN” Movement Global Gathering in Rome, Italy

The Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement has grown rapidly since it started in 2010. As of September 2014 there were 54 countries in the Movement: home to half the world’s malnourished children. The governments of these countries are supported by thousands of organizations as they prioritize investments in people’s nutrition.

Over the past four years, the SUN Movement Secretariat (SMS) has organized annual meetings of key participants from SUN countries, and the networks that support them.

The SUN Global Gathering (SUN-GG) was arranged in advance of the second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) to maximize interaction between the two meetings.

At the ICN2, key outcomes of the 2014 SUN Movement Global Gathering were presented, soliciting support as they develop the framework to effectively address the nutritional challenges in the coming decades.

The first two annual meetings were designed to encourage high-level political attention to nutrition. Since 2012 they have also served as the moment each year when country focal points from across the SUN Movement meet to interact, share progress, learn from each other and to be inspired to achieve even more.

The objectives of the 16-18 November 2014 Global Gathering:

1. To reflect on progress for scaling up nutrition in SUN member countries

2. To consider progress and achievements in strengthening country capacity to deliver, and accelerate support in areas of identified need

3. To contribute to the outcomes of ICN2 through shared country experiences and approaches to scaling up nutrition.

Outcomes of the 2014 SUN Movement Global Gathering:

  • Each SUN country should agree on a national Common Results Framework (CRF) that will  bring together  key actors and stakeholders to work out clear directions and guidelines for nutrition activities, stakeholder mapping and monitoring
  • Clear and powerful communication techniques should be developed because these are essential to the implementation of Social Mobilisation, Advocacy, and Communication for scaling up nutrition
  • In each SUN country there should be a focus on trust building and leadership for the prevention of conflicts
  • Policy makers in SUN countries are encouraged to make use of science and technology in nutrition issues and to ensure that the knowledge gap between nutrition and research is filled.
  • In addition to costing nutrition activities, there should be ways and means to track financial resource flows in order to improve nutrition accountability to the citizens
  •  Strategies should be developed for data collection so that the end users can find it useful, relevant,  and timely
  • Members of civil society, the business community and academia have experiences that are useful to the fight against hunger and malnutrition and every effort should be made to engage them
  • Nutrition stakeholders at regional and district levels should mobilize communities to raise awareness on nutrition issues.

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