In collaboration with its health partners, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation yesterday launched two important documents, that will enhance the efficiency of the health sector.
District medical staff together with nutritionists, and donors, mainly Irish Aid, Action Against Hunger, Hellen Keller, Unicef, including line ministries converged at the Vanilla Complex, Aberdeen to launch the National Nutrition Survey 2017 and the National Multi-Sectoral Strategy to Prevent and Control Anemia in Sierra Leone.
The conduct of the National Nutrition Survey started way back in 2013, as a result of the high prevalence rate of malnutrition among women and children under five years. The 2017 report showed that improvement was made over the years, but there is much more work to do, as is evident in data analysis and reporting during the survey, which was conducted between August and October of 2017.
Statements and power point presentation by Action Against Hunger and Hellen Keller respectively, showed that from 2013-2017 improvements have been made in certain areas to reduce malnutrition and anemia, like treatment of malaria, use of insecticide bed nets, increase hand washing and hygiene, but the report shows that the limited and non-availability of proper watsan facilities in many rural communities as well as slum communities in the western urban area. Also, the lack of knowledge of education about exclusive breastfeeding and the use of simple food preparation to get a balanced diet.
Lack of a balanced diet is responsible for the prevalence rate of malnutrition, stunting and anemia, a major cause for maternal and child death. According to some of the research during the survey because people are malnourished they are exposed to infectious diseases that are preventable, but they die as a result of poor nutritional status and anemia.
The Director of Food and Nutrition, Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Aminata Koroma explained that the national nutrition survey of 2017 also assessed the severity and geographical distribution of contextual factors associated with malnutrition. She added that the findings will provide the platform for policy and strategy development to prioritize the programs for short, medium and long term direct and indirect interventions at the national and district levels.
Nutrition surveys provide the main sources of reliable nutrition information at District and national levels, and the national nutrition information system is another source of nutrition information, including surveillance data on IMAM program and community level nutrition screening.
Anwar Ali, is the Head of Mission, Action Against Hunger. He stated findings are clear to guide both government and health partners to address the many remaining challenges of malnutrition and anemia. “The figures are still high, but we have come a long way from where we began, and I hope with more collaboration by 2025, Sierra Leone will be part of countries with very low rate of malnutrition and anemia”.
Dr. Mohamed Foh, is the Coordinator for Scaling Up Nutrition He noted if the two documents are implemented well, Sierra Leoneans will be well fortified with the right nutrients for their well-being.
The way forward from now to 2025 is the big challenge and was discussed during a group work session. Presentations including recommendations for short and long term implementation of the two documents was part of the working session by the national nutrition survey working group and the national multi-sectoral working group to prevent and control anemia.
By Ade Campbell
Thursday February 01, 2018.