UNICEF welcomes the progress in the Government of Liberia’s efforts to scale up nutrition [24 April 2014]
MONROVIA, Liberia 24 April 2014 - Liberia’s participation in the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement gained momentum last week at a high level multi-sectorial meeting to review progress in the country’s fight against hunger and under-nutrition. The meeting participants concluded that the country is on track with bringing multiple sectors together to further reduce chronic child malnutrition.
Despite successful efforts to reduce malnutrition (stunting) from 42 per cent in 2010 to 36 per cent in 2012, Liberia remains among those countries with very high stunting rates. To accelerate efforts to stop depriving thousands of children from attaining their full growth and development potential, earlier this year Liberia became the 47th country to commit to the global SUN Movement.
“Scaling up essential nutrition interventions to address chronic malnutrition in Liberia is key to ensuring that children not only survive but also lead quality lives,” said Hon. Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah, Assistant Minister at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
The high-level meeting bought Deputy and Assistant Ministers from the Ministries of Health and Social Welfare, Education and Agriculture, together with UNICEF and WFP Country Representatives and the global SUN Movement Coordinator.
“Getting the Ministries of Education and Agriculture working with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is what the SUN movement is all about,” said Dr. David Nabarro, SUN Movement Coordinator. “Encouraging sectors to work together, along with civil society, stakeholders and powerful leaders like the President and commitments from line ministries will make a huge difference.”
According to Hon. Dr. Charles McClain, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Agriculture, the SUN initiative has provided a platform for engaging nutrition partners in strategic agriculture meetings to ensure that nutrition-sensitive programming is implemented in the Ministry’s work.
“School health and school feeding programs are areas directly dealing with nutrition, however opportunities also lie in Early Childhood Development as well as Life Skills, School Health Clubs and Parent-Teacher-Student Associations,” said Mr. J. Othellio Gegey, Coordinator from Ministry of Education.
The Poverty Reduction Strategy, Essential Package of Health Services, National Nutrition Policy, Food Security and Nutrition Strategy and Education Sector Plan were noted as products of collaboration among Government, UN, civil society and donor community.
“SUN has proven to be a good platform to harmonize efforts in nutrition,” said Mr. Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Country Representative. “It is clear that to continue reducing stunting, we need to recognize that it is more than a health issue, but an issue that must be addressed across multiple sectors, with the prioritization of high-impact evidence-based interventions.”
In the past three years, UNICEF, WFP, FAO and international NGOs with support from the European Union have intensively invested in creating an enabling environment conducive for the scale up of nutrition, including establishing institutional structures and systems to support sound policy development.
Progress in the work of the Food Security and Nutrition Unit in the Ministry of Agriculture, the Nutrition Division in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and committees and technical working groups in the line ministries demonstrates both leadership of the Government and cooperation among partners.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
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