Stuart Short, Head of Wealth Management and Family Offices
I have just returned from one of the most amazing, exciting and humbling experiences of my entire near 55 years.
Working at The Power of Nutrition, I was in Liberia to see the results of the modest US$10m three-year programme, titled ‘Tackling child undernutrition in post-Ebola Liberia’.
Liberia is a beautiful country, with amazing shorelines and lush tropical forests, and the people are welcoming and friendly. But the country is recovering from an outbreak of Ebola and again going through a difficult economic period, which is causing considerable pain all over the land. My visit was an emotional rollercoaster.
My meetings with government and NGO officials were plentiful and productive, but the highlight of the trip were the visits to three hospitals, two in Bong County and another just outside the capital, Monrovia.
Witnessing the quality of the staff and the superb care that the health workers are providing in difficult circumstances made me choke back tears. Despite all the hardship, and the fact that many travel significant distances to be there, they greet everyone with a smile. It was humbling to see their dedication for their patients and commitment to their work.
I met a mother who brought her six-month-old baby to the Redemption Hospital for the first time. She had been encouraged to come by an older mother. Here, her baby was assessed. Various measurements were taken. The scale went to red, immediately alerting the nurses that the baby is suffering from severe acute malnutrition. They prescribe a course of Ready-to-Use-Therapeutic-Food, which is a fortified sweet paste, think of peanut butter, that is full of vitamins and nutrients. The baby will take this until it has achieved the correct weight for its age.
Other babies brought to the hospital, all suffering undernutrition, were given Micro-Nutrient Powder to mix in with their solid foods as a means of receiving the nutrients they require.
This is all part of The Power of Nutrition’s programme with UNICEF and the Government of Liberia so that mothers and children get the support they need and the benefits of a more nutritious diet.
Worryingly, the country is at a critical point in its nutritional development. Great improvements have been made since 2017, when The Power of Nutrition’s investment started to work there. With the economic outlook worsening, it is likely that without greater and continuing support undernutrition will increase. The doctors and nurses I spoke to anticipate this next year.
The aim in all our programmes is to build a sustainable platform. We do this by working in partnership and in collaboration with our partners – in Liberia, that’s with our implementation partner UNICEF and the government.
The first phase of The Power of Nutrition’s work with co-investors in Liberia has resulted in considerable progress. Coverage has increased across the country following the integration of services in the public health care system.
The Power of Nutrition intends to stay in Liberia and build on the good foundations that are there. We are currently working on the next phase of a programme of nutritional support for mothers, babies, children and, importantly, adolescent girls. Hopefully we will secure the funding to allow us to make this a reality.
Over the coming months, I will be working with philanthropists, banks, wealth managers, family offices, and financial advisors to garner support for our investment in the children of Liberia, so that they achieve their full potential. We all know the money is out there, I just need your help to unlock it.
Contact Stuart at firstname.lastname@example.org