The Government of Japan has committed a new contribution of USD 254,545 to improve the coverage of critical Severe and Acute Malnutrition treatment services and thereby reduce child mortality in Sierra Leone.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UNICEF Sierra Leone.
This commitment was formalised at a time when Government of Sierra Leone, Government of Japan and UNICEF are acknowledging the successful implementation of the project “Addressing critical gaps in the treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in four high burden districts”, which Japan funded to the tune of US$ 1.5 million in 2019.
“The Government of Sierra Leone remains is gratified of this sustained cooperation we are sustaining with the Government of Japan to keep the most vulnerable children healthy and protected from the effects of malnutrition,” said the Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Alpha T Wurie.
“During the year 2019 and with support of Japan, more than 9,126 under five children with severe acute malnutrition, received life-saving treatment with Ready-to-use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) and Therapeutic Milk.”
Under the new grant of 2020, UNICEF and the Government of Sierra Leone will implement a project “Sustaining Life-Saving Services for the treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in Bo district” which will see the uninterrupted delivery of critical SAM treatment services in health facilities of Bo, one of the districts with a high burden of malnutrition. This support is particularly important to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, which could affect the nutrition status of vulnerable children.
Sierra Leone’s child mortality rates remain high and this impacts on the progress made to achieve targets of the Sustainable Development Goals by the year 2030. According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey of 2017, Under-five mortality is 114 per 1,000 live births. Most of these deaths are a result of undernutrition which affects many children during the period of complementary feeding. In Bo district where the grant will be utilised, current prevalence of stunting, which is a result of undernutrition in the early years, is 32%, which is higher than the national level of 26 per cent.
Household food insecurity, poor infant and young child feeding practices, and poor sanitation and hygiene practices are among the most common drivers of malnutrition in the country. The grant will therefore support the delivery of essential quality of nutrition treatment services and supplies, including Ready-to-use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) and Therapeutic Milk.
“This new grant affirms our strong partnership between the Government of Japan and UNICEF in the efforts to improve the quality of life for mothers and children in Sierra Leone especially in the hard to reach areas,” said H.E. HIMENO Tsutomu, Ambassador of Japan.
“We, the Government of Japan, have supported intervention improving nutritional conditions of children with a view to advancing the global welfare of children through initiatives such as the Africa Health and Wellbeing Initiative. This grant is further a proof of sustained commitment that Japan remains a key partner contributing to the scaling up of nutrition movement by the global nutrition community.”
Within Sierra Leone, UNICEF has collaborated with the Government of Japan in support of Sierra Leone’s efforts to improve the lives of children in the areas of water and sanitation, education, child protection and nutrition.
“The delivery of quality nutrition treatment services and support is essential to ensure that the country remains on track to achieve global development goals, including the Sustainable Development Goal 2 to end hunger and malnutrition, and Sustainable Development Goal 3 to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages,” said UNICEF Representative, Suleiman Braimoh, “UNICEF is committed to continue working closely with Government in finding sustainable ways to give every child the hope, good health and happiness which they deserve.”