Sudan launches new data on child malnutrition; UNICEF calls for all-out effort to support the fight against malnutrition in Sudan
Khartoum, 29 January 2014 - For the first time in Sudan, the Simple Spatial Survey Methodology (S3M) has been used to collect data on child malnutrition, showing the difference in performance of health and nutrition services right down to locality level; in each of Sudan’s 18 states.
‘The S3M survey is a gold mine of credible data on child malnutrition and its underlying causes. Up-to-date, reliable data are indispensable to realize the right of every child in Sudan. They are essential to plan, budget, refine and deliver services for children in every locality of the country,’ said Mr Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF’s Representative in Sudan.
‘Up to now, Sudan has only had general data on the nutritional status of its children, and we know that national and even state level averages often mask disparities at lower levels. With these new survey results, we know exactly where the pockets of high need are located. This means that investment can be tailored to make sure that every single child in need is reached.’
The S3M survey methodology has been used in other countries before, including Niger, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia but the Sudan S3M has the greatest number of indicators so far: 64 in total covering child and maternal health and nutrition as well as WASH services.
The Sudan S3M survey results portray a mix of very different realities across the country with high levels of stunting (chronic malnutrition) and low levels of coverage for safe water and sanitation.
Poor child feeding practices are a problem across the country, with localities in Kassala and Gedaref states being some of the most critical. Coverage with safe drinking water and improved latrine facilities is lowest in the Eastern region and in the three Kordofan states, while prevalence of diarrhea is highest in Red Sea, Blue Nile and the Darfur region. Use of iodised salt has improved with over 90 per cent of households in some localities in Red Sea, South Darfur, Blue Nile and Kassala using adequately iodized salt.
Stepping up the response to malnutrition
The S3M survey is a significant and timely intervention toward tackling malnutrition in Sudan. Data collection for the Sudan S3M was undertaken in June, July and November 2013 involving 133 teams (532 individuals) and 39 supervisors from state and federal levels of Government. It is estimated that the total cost of the survey amounts to USD1,5 million. Now, the challenge lies in using the new data for better planning and budgeting for the critical and essential services that will help Sudan’s children survive and thrive.
The Ministry of Health endorsed the Sudan S3M survey results on 30 December last year and the survey forms part of a national, multi-sector process to give increased attention to child nutrition. Last year in Sudan, a nutrition policy brief was endorsed and this is already feeding into the development of a broad, multi-sector strategy. Work has begun to create a national nutrition council with membership from all relevant ministries and leadership by the Vice President’s office. A comprehensive investment plan for addressing child malnutrition in Sudan is also in the works as are plans to make Sudan part of the global Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement.
‘The contours of a solid, tailored and evidence based response to address child malnutrition in Sudan are emerging. I want to congratulate the Ministry of Health for its convening role and reiterate UNICEF’s continued support in these efforts. Investing in children’s adequate nutrition is a cornerstone of human development, indeed of national economic development. Growing up well-fed and healthy is the right of every child, and a prerequisite of building an educated and productive citizenry in any nation’,
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