First Lady Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma has advocated for better health for women and Children to meet the challenges of the Millennium Development Goals 4&5 at International Level. Mrs. Koroma has just returned from a week long conference in Washington DC organized by CARE International and Rand Cooperation.
During the conference themed ‘Many Voices one Movement’ Mrs. Koroma, wife of Mozambique President Mrs. Maria Da Luz Gebuza and wife of the Prime Minister of Kenya Mrs. Ida Odinga spoke lengthily on the reduction of maternal mortality.
A special reception in honour of Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma was organised by Marie Stopes International at the Metropolitan Club in Washington DC.
Dona Hovig President and CEO of Marie Stopes International reassured Mrs Koroma of Marie Stopes’s 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.
The CEO called on the US Government to continue to support Family Planning issues in Africa.
In her remarks First Lady Sia Koroma thanked the President and CEO of Marie Stopes for their work in Sierra Leone in reaching the reproductive health needs of women.
She pointed out the critical need to promote Family Planning issues in reducing maternal mortality.
In her remarks the President and CEO of Care International Dr Helen Gayle thanked the First Ladies for attending the conference, and emphasized CARE’s commitment to partner with African First Ladies in making a difference in the lives of mothers and children.
Dr Helen Gayle called on donors present to support ending poverty, promote girls to go to school and end maternal and infant mortality (Safe Delivery).
The CEO maintained that 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.
The Secretary of State said this is the first time; the United States is focusing on investing on the first 1,000-day window. “We’re identifying millions of young children who need nutritional support and we’re sticking with them for a three-year period to give them a foundation to lead healthy lives” Mrs. Clinton said.
We’re also significantly scaling up our investments in research and development to discover what we hope will be path-breaking tools and technologies, ranging from new techniques for measuring under-nutrition to new supplements to new bio-fortified crops she stressed.
“we’re trying to end poverty and we’re trying to make 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 for 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 Leone’s free health Care for pregnant women, children under five’s and lactating mothers. She highlighted the challenges in sustaining the free health care 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, and about the existing barriers between a woman from her house into the hands of skilled care and the intervention of her Women’s Initiative for Safer Health (WISH) initiative to train skill birth attendants.
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 congress man Republican Donald Payne at Rayburn building. Mr. Payne congratulated the government and people of Sierra Leone for the peace and stability in the country.
The First Lady also met with Ambassador Johnny Carson 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.
During the visit the APC Washington Metropolitan Chapter organized a fund raising dinner and dance in honor of the First Lady Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma in her work in reducing infant and maternal mortality.
Janet Laggah Bona a 9 year old Sierra Leonean girl did a song where she raised $ 251, which she presented to the First Lady in support of her WISH Initiative.