FREETOWN, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- More than 300,000 Sierra Leone children are critically malnourished, the country's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sidiki Dao said here Tuesday.
Dr Dao, who was speaking at the launch of the Scaling-Up Nutrition (SUN) Initiative, a multi-stakeholder program aimed at reducing hunger and under-nutrition, described the situation as the worst in the south and eastern regions of the country.
"Malnutrition still remains an important concern and contributor to infant sickness and death in the country and poses a serious challenge to the nation's manpower and development," he stated.
Sierra Leone's Vice President Alhaji Sam Sumana, who officially launched the program, said accessibility "to food for our people is of vital concern to our Government."
He noted that food shortages occur during the planting season and the government has introduced the "smallholder commercialization program aimed at reducing rural poverty and household food insufficiency on a sustainable basis".
Sumana said the government's challenge to fully implement the smallholder commercialization scheme rested with funds to support scale-up nutrition interventions in most needy areas.
"It is against this background that Sierra Leone applied to become a member of the SUN movement and approval was given within two months," he said.
"The SUN Initiative must be seen as a new institution of financial mechanism," Sumana stressed.
Mohamed Sheriff, deputy director of planning and monitoring of the ministry of Agriculture, said the feeding habit of Sierra Leoneans mainly centered on carbohydrate, including staple foods such as rice and cassava.