Of the deaths of children under 5 in Sierra Leone, 57 percent are the result of malnutrition, and both the ministry of health and government officials in Sierra Leone have begun work to reduce this horrifying statistic by joining Scaling Up Nutrition and by signing the Nutrition for Growth agreement.
As Sierra Leone recovers from its civil war, which ended in 2002, officials are attempting to shift the focus from malnutrition treatment to malnutrition prevention. Officials have been tracking the correlation between sanitation, education and malnutrition in order to improve prevention techniques.
In an interview with The Guardian, Aminata Shamit Koroma, the director of food and nutrition at the ministry of health in Sierra Leone, noted that women with a higher level of education were more likely to have access to adequate sanitation and less likely to have malnourished children.
In his efforts to prevent malnutrition in children, Koroma has been centering her campaign on breastfeeding and emphasizing to mothers the importance of breastfeeding their infants during the first six months of life. She has been spreading awareness through radio commercials and mother support groups.
Koroma has also been encouraging grandmothers to attend these mother-to-mother support groups so that they can impart their knowledge of child nutrition onto new mothers who might not be aware of the nutrients their children need. The Sierra Leone National Food and Security Food Policy of 2015-2016 also targets fathers so that they support their wives in breastfeeding. Besides emphasizing the future health of their children as a motivating factor, the initiative informs the families that if the mother is breastfeeding her child, they do not have to buy extra food for the child during the first few months of life.
The nutrition policy will also regulate the marketing of supposedly comparable and superior breast milk substitutes in order to ensure that mothers are not tricked by false sales promises. While Koroma knows it is unlikely that infant malnutrition will be eradicated within the next year or two, she recognizes the importance of the steps she is taking as she encourages the people of Sierra Leone to begin to change how they view infant health.
— Jordyn Horowitz