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On Thursday, 1st October 2015, at the Vice President’s Conference Room, the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement officially launched the video documentary “Good Nutrition: Key for a Healthy Nation”. The documentary was developed by ACF Sierra Leone, in collaboration with the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Civil Society Platform (CSP) and the Ministry of health and Sanitation (MoHS), The documentary aims at showcasing the achievements gained by the Ministry of Health and its partners in the fight against malnutrition by providing an overview of the main programmes and strategies in place in the country for the prevention and the treatment of malnutrition.
The event was attended by representatives from line ministries, civil society, other Non-Governmental Organizations, donors, the private sector and the media. During the launch, addresses were given by the SUN National Coordinator; ACF Country Director; Director of Food and Nutrition – MOHS – ; Irish-Aid; and the permanent secretary, Vice President’s Office. From their speeches, all speakers point to the fact that the documentary represents a step in the right direction, promoting the gains made in tackling malnutrition.
Indeed, over the past decade Sierra Leone has significantly improved in the fight against malnutrition as revealed by the national SMART survey conducted in 2014 by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and partners. The survey shows in 2014 12.9% of children were found to be underweight as opposed to 18.7% in 2010, 28.8% stunted as opposed to 34.1% in 2010 and 4.7% wasted as opposed to 6.9% in 2010. The rate of exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of a child’s life has also improved from about 30% to 58.8% in 2014.
This is a result of the Government’s commitment to tackling malnutrition which reflects national and international commitments to strategies and programmes aimed at improving maternal, infant and young child nutrition. Unfortunately, despite the successes achieved, these seem not to be sufficiently visible in the field. It is against this backdrop that the documentary was designed to showcase the gains made by providing an overview of the main programmes and strategies in the field and the results; and this decision was commended by the representative of the VP Office who defined the documentary as “a timely and effective job”.
As mentioned by the ACF Country Director during his speech, Sierra Leone has come a long way but a lot still need to be done. ACF has been in Sierra Leone since 1991 supporting the national authorities in the fight against malnutrition. On the rationale of the documentary he says “[…] usually partners tend to look at all the shortcomings and challenges faced on the road to improving the conditions of all Sierra Leoneans failing to reflect and recognize the gains this country has made over the years […] this video is a first step to celebrating and showcasing the successes made, especially in the nutrition sector, and we hope other partners will follow suit”.
The documentary, displayed during the event, will be broadcasted in the national TV in Sierra Leone and taken to the SUN Global Gathering which will be held in Milan, Italy, at the end of October. The documentary will provide the opportunity for Sierra Leone to visually show other countries the successful partners’ commitments in fighting malnutrition in the country.