Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor said good public policy choices and a multi-dimensional approach is pivotal to addressing the health and nutrition of adolescence girls in the sub region.
Speaking at the Bi-annual ECOWAS Nutrition summit on Monday November 18, 2019 VP Taylor stressed that the multi sector nature of the fight against hunger and nutrition requires major attention and the involvement of several sectors including: Health, Agriculture, Animal and Resources, Education especially of the girl child, women empowerment, social protection, Water, Hygiene and environmental sanitation among others.
The Liberian Vice President however praised what she described as the growing global momentum in tackling mal nutrition on the continent.
She at the same time disclosed that Liberia as a nation has made some progress in improving an enabling environment for improved nutrition especially with a significant portion of Liberia’s population continue to live under the poverty line.
Madam Taylor emphasized that nutrition is also included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) thereby highlighting the importance of it to national, social and economic development.
According to her the education of a girl child is usually cut short due to unwanted and unplanned pregnancy, Sexual gender Base Violence, Female Genital Mutilation among others which she noted needs to be addressed.
Also speaking at the program was ECOWAS Ambassador to Liberia Babatunde Ajisome who emphasized the need to build a regional food security reserve.
According to him ECOWAS is fully committed to strengthening a food reserve approach in promoting appropriate nutritional diet.
He said the challenge of mal-nutrition is not only public health issue rather a wider range of effort will be require to help improve the social, economic conditions of the population in the sub region especially the vulnerable and marginalized groups respectively.
Amb. Ajisomo therefore called for a strengthen multi sectoral approach in the policies, strategies and interventions aimed at supporting and enhancing food security and nutrition with involvement of key sectors namely: Health, Gender, Education and Agriculture.
The ECOWAS Diplomat named: Food Base strategy to include: proper dieting, School base nutrition intervention, sufficient Household level nutrition among others as key approaches in enhancing adolescence nutrition in the region.
For her part Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah stressed the need to focus on adolescences nutrition.
“We are not proud to say adolescences pregnancy accounts for 31% of all births in Liberia”, that’s accounting to the Liberia Demography and Health Survey (LDHS-2013)Minister Jallah added.
She told stakeholders in the sector that age range of 20 in said category is likely to bring forth low birth rate babies where the baby bodies must compensate for puberty, Development and Development of the babies and also increases the changes of inter-generational circle of mal-nutrition.
According to the LDHS 2013 survey, low birth rate babies accounts for 10% of life birth and poses a serious challenge due to its strong association with stunting among children under five.
The Liberian health Minister however pointed out that optimal nutrition status among adolescences is the foundation to the future health and nutrition of new born and consequently of the future generation at large.
According to the 2011, Liberian National Micro Nitrogen survey indicates that 14% of teenage Mothers between the ages of 15-19 years are under nudged while 53% of adolescences are anemic, this she noted is crucial to address because it affects their growth, their resistance to infection including work productivity among others.
Meanwhile practical solutions to help address some of the challenges in the sector for the larger population in the sub region are expected to be reached by stakeholders at the end of the summit on Wednesday.