The President of the Women’s Forum Sierra Leone, Mrs. Maude Regina Peacock, has said that Sierra Leone market women are a force to reckon with since they are the spark of life of local business who know the intimate structures of the community. She said this uniqueness makes them an ideal and useful means of raising awareness in various communities that Ebola has not ended. Mrs. Peacock was speaking when she chaired a two-day workshop on the topic: ‘Engaging Market Women to Promote Nutrition, Immunization and Maintaining Zero Ebola Case.’
Organised by Children Advocacy Forum Sierra Leone (CAF-SL), in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Market Women’s Association (SLMWA) and with support from FOCUS 1000, the workshop was held from 17th to 18th August 2015 at the YWCA Old Hall, Brookfields in Freetown for over 215 market women drawn nationwide.
Five participants were drawn from each District including the Chairlady, the Vice, Secretary General and two ordinary members including a male.
In his keynote address, the Chief Executive Officer of FOCUS 1000, Alhaji Mohamed Bailor Jalloh appealed to all to reach and attain zero Ebola and urged participants to replicate the knowledge gained from the workshop to their colleagues, families and communities underlining that they should champion and support the education and development of their children which is the greatest investment so that in turn the children would adequately take care of them when they are old.
Alhaji Mohamed Bailor Jalloh further admonished all to stop selling supplementary baby food as breast milk is the best and for women to talk to others about the importance of nutrition and immunization and further appealed to all not to relent in observing the preventive measures of Ebola to enhance good health.
The President of the Women’s Forum Sierra Leone, Mrs. Maude Regina Peacock, who chaired the event, informed that market women are a force to reckon with since they are the spark of life of local business adding that they know the structure of the community and therefore should be aware that Ebola has not ended.
Madam Solade Pyne-Bailey from the Food and Nutrition Department, Ministry of Health and Sanitation, defined nutrition as nourishment relating to food and underscored the relevance of micro-nutrients in food which if unavailable, is incomplete diet, the reason for the partnership with market women to promote healthy diet.
She also underscored the need for exclusive breastfeeding for six months.
Vandana Joshi, UNICEF’s Nutrition Specialist, commended the women for their pivotal role to end the outbreak, enhance nutrition and advised them to discourage the sale and use of supplementary baby foods.
Dr. Mohamed Foh, National Coordinator, Scaling-Up Nutrition (SUN) reiterated that Government has prioritized nutrition and that market women have a major role to play in promoting SUN affirming that the food we eat is the soldier that protects our body from diseases.
Mrs. Marie Bob Kandeh, Secretary General of the SLMWA intimated this medium in an exclusive interview that the workshop, to raise awareness on nutrition, immunization and ending Ebola, was funded by FOCUS 1000 disclosing that various experts presented papers on different topics.
She continued that with funding, the training would be replicated at District and Chiefdom levels asserting that the process would also be monitored to ensure that participants replicate the knowledge gained as they would be assisted to draw their own activity plans to be implemented in their respective communities.
Mrs. Marie Bob Kandeh also revealed that market women have been provided with buckets, drums, megaphones, containers, money and other items to facilitate their work and appealed to other NGOs for support.
All the speakers underlined the need for exclusive breastfeeding up to six months.
Statements were also made by representatives of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, the National Ebola Response Center, the Freetown City Council, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Care Relief Services and UN Women.
Launch of the NASSIT Informal Sector Scheme, the question and answer session and updates from participants on activities conducted at District level, climaxed the event.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.