He said his government has the political will and is committed to ensuring that SUN efforts are expanded across all the regions and not just focused in Freetown. He maintained that he is considering setting up a ministerial committee that would have the mandate of coordinating all SUN efforts, programmes and projections in order for the efforts of SUN to have far reaching positive consequences on the health of children in the first six months of their life and beyond.
He said malnutrition among children is as a result of food insecurity and that it is unfortunate that the former government though it tried in some areas entertained misplaced proprieties which now need to be scrutinized with the objective of making things better health-wise not only for children, but for adults as well.
He called on donors and other partners to continue the good work they have started, adding that President Julius Maada Bio is very passionate about matters dealing with the welfare of children. He reassured the donors and in particular SUN office that no efforts would be spared to ensure that SUN succeeds at expanding its sensitization and implementation activities across the country.
He reaffirmed government’s commitment to SUN in the fight against hunger and malnutrition in all its forms; pledged that government will continue to take the lead in the fight to end hunger and malnutrition in all its forms by providing support to SUN in the fight; and that the government is calling on all network partners of SUN to work together to end hunger and malnutrition so as to contribute to the economic and social development of the nation. He noted that the role of coordination to end hunger and malnutrition is strongly emphasized since SUN has multi-sectoral partners whose work should be well coordinated to avoid duplication of efforts and wasting of resources.
Other speakers including the representative for Irish Aid in Sierra Leone, mentioned that they have been in operation in Sierra Leone since 2003 and that their focus has been on stemming hunger after having experienced a serious famine in Ireland which decimated that country’s population.
According to her, SUN is particularly engaged in ensuring that it sensitizes mothers on exclusive breast-feeding for six months; and that SUN is already preparing new strategies that would ensure adherence through monitoring.
Mohamed B. Jalloh, Chief Executive Officer, FOCUS 1000 made similar sentiments, adding that his organization focuses on encouraging exclusive breast-feeding within the first six months. He added that he is glad that his organization is considered important in enhancing nutrition in Sierra Leone and that he is poised to do his best to ensure that SUN efforts are accomplished through proper coordination.
Dr. Joseph Bahsoon, CEO Bennimix Food Company also spoke on the importance of exclusive breast-feeding within the six first months of a baby’s life. He added however that when it comes to supplementary food after the first six months, he is proud to say that his company produces Bennimix which is extracted from local materials. He called on VP Juldeh and the government to protect this industry because it is providing supplementary food for children that is not adulterated and which has been clinically tested to be very good for babies.
The meeting which attracted a diverse audience drawn from MDAs, civil society organizations, local and foreign partners and the press was chaired by Mohamed B.K. Foh, National Coordinator Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN).