Nearly half of all deaths in children under five are attributable to malnutrition. This translates into the unnecessary loss of about 3 million young lives a year. Under nutrition puts children at greater risk of dying from common infections, increases the frequency and severity of such infections, and contributes to delayed recovery. In addition, the interaction between under nutrition and infection can create a potentially lethal cycle of worsening illness and deteriorating nutritional status. Poor nutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life can also lead to stunted growth, which is irreversible and associated with impaired cognitive ability and reduced school and work performance, UNICEF says.
In Sierra Leone, according to 2014 statistics, malnutrition still remains an important contributor to infant morbidity and mortality in the country. It is also a major impediment to the manpower and economic development of the country.
According to the national SMART survey conducted in 2010, 34.1% of children under the age of five years are stunted, 6.9% are wasted and 18.7% are underweight. The prevalence of overweight in children over five years was 8% in 2008 (DHS). In absolute numbers, over 300,000 children in Sierra Leone are chronically malnourished and the situation is worsening in the eastern and southern regions.
Doctors across the world have unanimously voiced their opinions that exclusive breastfeeding of babies is the very best thing a mother can do for her child. Most doctors agree that supplementing breastmilk with any formula is not necessary till a child is well past six months of age.
As an effort to improve the health, social and economic well-being for children especially nutritionally vulnerable groups, Being-Mate through Mariatu Kargbo, a goodwill ambassador to China on Wednesday made a donation of baby’s formula worth $1 million USD to the Office of the First lady.
Beingmate Baby & Child Food Co., Ltd. is a China-based company, principally engaged in the research and development, production and distribution of infant food products.
Highlighting the current actions to scale up nutrition among infants, Zuliakatu Cooper, Deputy Health Minister, noted, the Ministry will ensure that correct usage of the formula.
Sierra Leone first lady, Sia Nyama Koroma received the baby formula and thanked the Chinese and Sierra Leone embassies.
By Sylvia Villa
Thursday October 12, 2017.