A major breakthrough has been made in the global fight against malnutrition and under nutrition, a poverty related condition responsible for the death of over 3 million children annually.
At a recent Nutrition for Growth conference held in London under the theme “Beating Hunger through Business and Science”, leaders of leading philanthropic organizations and governments pledged US$4.1 billion over a four year period to support national action plans aim at improving nutritional condition of mothers and children especially during their first 1000 days of cognitive development.
Speaking on behalf of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the conference, Agriculture Minister Dr. Florence Chenoweth reaffirmed Liberia’s commitment to a multi-sector approach in addressing the underlying causes of malnutrition in Liberia.
She said, “a process is underway to revise the existing Food Security and Nutrition Policy which will promote nutrition sensitive and nutrition specific interventions. Based on this, a joint Government of Liberia and UN Food Security and Nutrition Programme will also be launched for multi-sector approach in Liberia”.
Minister Chenoweth noted further that “the Government of Liberia and UNICEF in partnership with nutrition stakeholders have launched a joint nutrition initiative to scale-up nutrition interventions in Liberia over the next five years.
The Essential Nutrition Action package coupled with capacity building and social mobilization activities will be rolled out in five counties every year and by the third year of implementation, all 15 counties will be covered by the initiative”.
Some of the key nutrition priorities in Liberia includes, improving breastfeeding, addressing anaemia by initiating micro-nutrient powder supplementation for children, integrating nutrition promotion into existing agriculture programmes and social protection initiatives and strengthening institutional framework and increase resource allocation.
In his opening remarks, British Prime Minister David Cameron called for a new approach in the fight to end poverty. He said, “Spending more money alone will not end poverty. We need to do things differently by introducing science and business and harnessing local initiatives that are practical and realistic. Business should be about educating people about the importance of nutrition while science should be about harnessing the power of innovation”.
Prime Minister Cameron said, national and international interventions in eradicating poverty is important in curtailing mass migration of people and curtailing the threat to national and regional security. “Great Britain will donate 1.7 percent of its Gross Domestic Product to global efforts to end poverty and this amount is expected to benefit 37 million children worldwide”, he concluded.
Major donations at the Nutrition for Growth conference came from the European Commission in the amount of 3.5 billion Euro, the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation, 800 Million United States Dollars and the Children’s Investment Foundation Fund, 700 Million United States Dollars.
Liberia’s Essential Nutrition Action package is estimated at 15.2 million United States dollars of which the Government has already committed 3.2 million dollars. The project will train 3,000 health workers and 1,500 community health volunteers thereby helping to support the decentralization and community participation of health service delivery in the country.