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In Sierra Leone, First Lady Sia Koroma Returns from USA : Press Release From State Lodge
May 20, 2010, 17:08
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The First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma has just returned from a one week conference in Washington DC organized by CARE International and Rand Cooperation. During the weeklong celebration the First Lady Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma, the First Lady of Mozambique, Mrs. Maria Da Luz Gebuza, and wife of the Prime minister of Kenya, Mrs. Ida Odinga were Special Guests of Honour.

The celebrations theme was "Many Voices, One Movement". The program started with a special reception in honour of Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma by Marie Stopes International at the Metropolitan Club in Washington DC. Mr. Dona Hovig, the President and CEO of Marie Stopes International reassured Marie Stopess commitment to the government and people of Sierra Leone in promoting Family Planning and Reproductive Health Issues. He said the government of Netherlands has pledged more support on Family Planning and Reproductive Health Issues to developing countries in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals. He called on the US Government to continue to support Family Planning issues in Africa.

Giving her remarks the First Lady Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma thanked Mr. Dona Hovig for their commendable work in Sierra Leone by reaching the reproductive health needs of women in Sierra Leone. She pointed out the critical need to promote Family Planning issues in reducing maternal mortality.

Speaking at the National Conference and Celebration the President and CEO of Care International Dr Helen Gayle thanked the First Ladies for attending the conference. She emphasised CAREs commitment to partner with African First Ladies in making a difference in the lives of mothers and children. She called on donors present to support ending poverty, promote girls to go to school, and end maternal and infant mortality (Safe Delivery). She said the set goal of the conference is geared towards addressing maternal mortality issues in Africa.

Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton in her speech stressed the issue of Under-nutrition and the effectiveness of life-saving medications, including the antiretroviral needed by people living with HIV and AIDS. She said the effects of under-nutrition linger for generations. "Girls stunted by under-nutrition grow up to be women who are more likely to endure, if they survive, difficult pregnancies. And then their children, too, come into life undernourished", she said.

She said this is the first time; the United States is focusing on investing on the first 1,000-day window. "Were identifying millions of young children who need nutritional support and were sticking with them for a three-year period to give them a foundation to lead healthy lives," Mrs. Clinton said, and stressed that they are also significantly scaling up their investments in research and development to discover what will be path-breaking tools and technologies, ranging from new techniques for measuring under-nutrition to new supplements to new bio-fortified crops.

She said the US government is now focusing on women the mothers, the farmers, the health workers, the community leaders whose insights and efforts can make the difference between a successful program and one that falls short.

"Were trying to end poverty and making nutrition the intersection of two major new policy initiatives the Global Health Initiative, a six-year, $63 billion effort to strengthen the health systems of our partner countries, and Feed the Future our hunger and food security initiative of at least three years and $3.5 billion to improve agricultural systems from farms to markets she said.

She said the aim is to reduce child under-nutrition by 30 percent in the developed countries.

At the evening session the First Lady Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma attended a panel discussion at the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center where she spoke about Sierra Leones Free Health Care for pregnant women, children under fives and lactating mothers where she highlighted the challenges in sustaining the program and the need for more support from the donor community. She spoke about the first traditional and religious leaders forum which her office and UNFPA held in November 2008. She spoke about the existing barriers that exist between a woman from her house into the hands of skilled care and the intervention of her Womens Initiative for Safer Health (WISH) to train skill birth attendants.

The First Lady stressed the need to increase birth waiting homes, villages and loan savings schemes at community level to ensure pregnant women have access to health care. Mrs. Koroma called on the audience to strengthen the partnership and the need to help Sierra Leone meet the goals of reducing maternal and infant mortality. The First Lady also mentioned about governments main strategy, the Agenda for Change which priorities Health, Education, Agriculture, Electricity, and Infrastructure as key areas of intervention. The First Lady called on the international community to strengthen partnership with the government of Sierra Leone in meeting the set goals of the Agenda for Change.

At a meeting titled "Raising Our Voices" at Capitol Hill the First Lady Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma, Madam Guebuza the First Lady of Mozambique, and Madam Odinga wife of the Prime Minister of Kenya met with the Congress Representative, Donald Payne at Rayburn Building where he congratulated the government and people of Sierra Leone for the peace and stability in the country. He applauded Sierra Leone for clearly demonstrating democracy and good leadership. During the meeting the First Lady Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma gave an overview of her countrys health situation with special emphasis on maternal and infant mortality and Education. She highlighted her intervention through her WISH Initiative. She called on the US Government to increase support in Sierra Leone in the area of maternal and child health and emphasized the need for an effective and efficient human resource capacity building, equipments, drugs, and the extension of village and loan scheme and birth waiting homes at community level.

The First Lady also met with Ambassador Johnny Carson, the Assistant Secretary of State for Africa where he spoke about US commitment to Africa in tackling health, nutrition and the provision of technical assistance to developing countries. The First Lady thanked the USA for their support and called for more partnership in the area of health and education in meeting the Millennium Development Goals. She pointed out government existing structures such as the Agenda for Change which deals with specific priorities such as electricity, health, agriculture, education, and infrastructure. She called for more assistance in these areas as Sierra Leone is recovering from an eleven year civil war.

At a meeting with Rand Cooperation and CARE International at CARE office commitments were made to build the capacities of the three First Ladies. Rand Cooperation and CARE also committed themselves to assist the Office of The First Lady in extending her work in the areas of villages, loan schemes, and birth waiting homes in rural communities. Care international also made commitment for Sierra Leone to benefit in the area of Breast Cancer awareness.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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