UNICEF warns over alarming malnutrition

By Elia Joseph Loful

The United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF) warned that there is alarming high number of children under five years of age suffering from physical consequences of poor diets and food staff.

Officials said a comprehensive nutrition campaign to fight malnutrition across the country has been launched.

Speaking to Journalists in a press conference yesterday, Andrea Suley UNICEF Deputy Representative in South Sudan said that Malnutrition is complex and must be fought on all fronts simultaneously.

“Together with partners and donors we have become exceptionally good at treating children for acute malnutrition, now we must make up our game and become even better at preventing it,” said Suley.

She stressed that UNICEF and partners are working to promote age-appropriate feeding practices for children, including cooking demonstrations with locally available food saying UNICEF are with sister agencies such as FAO in order to improve resilience by providing families with seeds and livestock preventing future shocks.

She added that hygiene and promotion, improving access to clean water and sanitation and providing health services are also contributing to prevention of malnutrition.

Suley said UNICEF would like to appeal to the government of South Sudan to produce multisector strategic plan for nutrition with joint targets, pooled resources, multisectral coordination, an accountability framework and joint monitoring and evaluation system.

She also urged donors and non-governmental organizations to support prevention strategy of addressing malnutrition by prioritizing prevention of malnutrition at community and facility level saying communities must ensure that their children have a healthy diet.

Suley revealed that the prevalence of acute malnutrition among children in South Sudan was quite alarming adding that it has increased from 13 percent in 2018 to 16 percent in 2019, which was above the 15 percent emergency threshold.

“It is globally estimated that1.3 million children under the age of five will suffer from acute malnutrition in 2020.This calls for a paradigm shift in addressing malnutrition by shifting from focusing on treatment to prioritizing prevention by reducing the need for treatment,”Suley said.

She said there were 2000 centers in the country set for specific nutrition to treat malnutrition countrywide.

“We have a very large program in the country where we focus on prevention and treatment with 48 NGOs to provide prevention services on malnutrition,” she said.

Speaking on behalf of the government, Dr. Samson Baba, adviser to the Ministry of Health said parents should invest in prevention rather than cure.

“We need to invest in prevention than cure. We are fighting a losing battle, and not addressing the root causes of the problems,” Baba said.

He added that poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water was a big contributing factor to acute malnutrition in many communities in South Sudan.

“The problem of malnutrition today in our country is not only poor diet but it is the issue of lack of clean drinking water and poor sanitation that is affecting many children today,” Baba said.

The occasion was attended by various organizations working in the country and government officials.


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