“My child is assured of her 5th birthday celebration …” says mother of two
Mrs. Matta Kallon is a mother of two children John 8, and Bendu 5. She is a resident of Kenema District in the Eastern part of Sierra Leone. At age 16 she was forced out of school due to pregnancy. Her boyfriend then was a student alike. Both could not afford five dollars (US $5) a day. As a result of their dependent situation they could neither provide a well balanced diet for their first child, nor finance his medical bill.
The baby died after six weeks of existence. She (Matta) could not tell the cause of death, but it was opinionatedly attributed to malnutrition and complicated of infectious diseases.
Barely after two years, Matta fell into another pregnancy and gave birth to a bouncing girl child and named her Bendu.
“My child,” Matta said, “is assured of her 5th birthday celebration; resistant to infectious diseases; she has received Vitamin ‘A’ capsules during the Mami en Pikin Welbody Week.”
She looked excited about the preventive intervention to save lives of children especially under five. “I want to thank the Government, UNICEF, Hellen Keller International, and WHO for such a brilliant preventive mechanism…” she added.
Mrs. Kallon said when she heard about the ‘Mami en Pikin Wel bodi Week’ on the radio, she, like many other pregnant and lactating mothers, was happy.
The Maternal and Child Health Week (Mami en Pikin Wel bodi Week) ended on 29th November, 2011.
Vitamin A is essential for eye health and the effective functioning of the immune system of the body. It is found in protein foods such as liver, egg, red-palm oil, green leafy vegetables and much more.
The 1990 World Summit for Children established that Vitamin A deficiency should be eliminated including its consequences like blindness by the year 2000. This statement was further endorsed at the Policy Conference on Ending Hidden Hunger in 1991, and also the 1992 International Conference on Nutrition and the United Nations General Assembly’s Special Session on Children in 2002.
The Government through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation is committed to achieving the fourth Millennium Development Goal by 2015. That is to reduce death among under fives. The Ministry of Health and Sanitation with technical support from UNICEF and WHO had recommended that children aged 6-11months be given one high dose of Vitamin A capsules (100,000 IU) and children aged 12-59 months be given Vitamin A capsule (200,000 IU) every six (6) months.
Vitamin A capsules are linked with immunization services in Sierra Leone. The Health Ministry had similarly advised that postpartum mothers take a Vitamin A Supplement immediately during the six weeks following delivery, because of the increase Vitamin A required during pregnancy and lactating period.
The Maternal and Child Health Week has ended, but I will like to assess whether it must be prioritized as on the Agenda for Change, and considered as an indicator to measure whether Sierra Leone is set to achieve the Millennium Development Goal 4.
Indeed the campaign is necessary as Vitamin A would accelerate the mechanism in the body to resist infectious diseases.
It has the potency to reduce deaths among under fives children due to Vitamin A deficiency.
It could also improve on the growth of the child. In fact, it prevents blindness among children.
In addition to that, Vitamin A is also necessary for the mother within six (6) weeks after delivery to revitalize her health and capacitate her breast milk with supplementary nutrients.
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