By Ibrahim Kabba Turay
Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh has handed over nutrition commodities worth $99, 000 United Dollars to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, through the Nutrition March Window.
The handing over ceremony was done on Thursday, 26th October, 2023 at FAWAS Warehouse, Kissy, Ferry Junction in Freetown, where the items were stored.
Speaking during the handing over ceremony, Vice President Jalloh said what they saw that day started in 2019 when he visited Pujehun hospital.
He said he went to the under 5 ward and found out that there was no child at the ward.
“I asked the Doctor whether there was any under-five child at the hospital,” he said.
He said the doctor replied that all the suckling mothers had gone to Freetown to seek proper nutrition for their babies.
He said since that time he vowed that their government will ensure that funds are allocated for nutrition.
He continued that since that time he had focused his attention on nutrition for lactating mothers and their babies.
“If you want to fight maternal and infant mortality you have to focus your attention on the first one thousand days since the woman gets pregnant. A malnourish pregnant woman has a greater tendency to deliver a malnourish baby,” he said
He said a malnourish mother will struggle to deliver and the child will also struggle to survive, noting that proper nutrition has the greater tendency to reduce maternal and infant mortality rate.
He further urged development partners, nurses and doctors to join hands and support pregnant woman so that they can be able to solve the problem of malnutrition in the country,
He concluded that in 2024, his government will contribute three hundred thousand dollars in the area of nutrition, and “we will continue to increase the budget allocation.
UNICEF Country Representative, Rudolf Schwenk, said they were delighted with the significant leadership of the government on food security for its people, especially children.
“It is worth noting that 50% of the essential commodities were procured with funds from the Government of Sierra Leone and the other 50% with funds from the Nutrition Match Window,” he said.
He said the country’s nutrition statistics are of serious concern with 78 percent of the population facing food insecurity, and that one in five household are grappling with severe food insecurity.
He said there was an urgent need for action, albeit the challenges are immense with 26 per cent of children under-five experiencing stunting, and 5.2 percent suffer from wasting.
He stated that stunting rates are lower than regional averages but still above global standards.
“Let us always remember that we are here to protect the future of Sierra Leone. Our children, our united effort today will pave the way for a brighter and healthier tomorrow,” he said.
Minister of Health, Dr. Austin Demby, said in July 2023, $ 99,000 was disbursed by the GoSL through the Minister of Finance to UNICEF for the procurement of 1,700 cartons of RUTF.