Hunger and malnourishment inhibit the normal growth of a child and impede the ability to develop into adult- hood for effective contribution in nation building. Malnourished children grow up poorly and perform poorly in their educational pursuits. With limited education and skills, their economic productivity in society will be limited. Malnutrition deprives our country of much needed human resources for socio-economic transfor- mation. Malnutrition breeds the circle of poverty in the household, at community and national levels. Mal- nourished children are likely to be intellectually impaired with diminished productive and creative capacity. This is the reality that confronts us as a nation for which our Government is acting decisively to ameliorate the prevalence, bearing in mind that malnutrition is a preventable malaise.
Despite our challenges, Sierra Leone is making significant progress at reducing chronic under-nutrition of children. The percentage of stunting among children under five has been gradually reduced from 34.1% to 28.8% (SMART; 2010, 2014). Consequently, the number of children affected by stunting is projected to de- crease. However, micronutrient deficiencies are still prevalent in both women and children, and under-five mortality rates remain high. Principal factors are that poor households do not have access to safe and nu- tritious foods, sanitation is poor and inadequate and there are insufficient behavioral change interventions targeting women of reproductive age.
The Government is responsive to the needs of the people. Together with our development partnerswe are aware of the challenges to tackle food insecurity and high infectious disease burden, especially among the vulnerable sectors of our society. As stated in The Agenda for Prosperity, we shall endeavour to address these challenges, including scaling up nutrition and eliminating hunger, among others. Since its introduc- tion into our health care system, accompanied by a vigorous nationwide campaign, under the leadership of His Excellency the President, the Free Health Care Initiative has resulted into a significant reduction in maternal and child mortality across Sierra Leone.
With the current Ebola epidemic, it is imperative that we simultaneously address the issue of nutrition and food security because we share the view that there is a nexus between nutrition and building natural im- munity to fight infectious diseases. For more detials, download the Annual Report on Scaling Up Food and Nutrition