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New nutrition policy for northern states of Sudan to strengthen child health, reduce mortality

KHARTOUM, 19 February 2009 -  Sudan’s Federal Ministry of Health will unveil a new nutrition policy covering the 15 northern states of the country on Sunday, 22 February, as part of ongoing efforts to improve child health and reduce mortality rates towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals.

The new policy, developed with the support of UNICEF, WFP and WHO, sets out the framework through which a range of integrated activities will be undertaken throughout the 15 states to improve the nutritional status of the population. It ensures that standardised and high quality nutrition services can be delivered, backed up by investments in technical capacity to ensure that health professionals have the required skills to implement and monitor nutrition-related activities.

Welcoming the adoption of the new policy, UNICEF’s Acting Representative in Sudan Dr. Iyabode Olusanmi said “The nutrition policy marks a further step by the Government of National Unity to tackle malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency, and will have a critical impact on Sudan’s efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals for children.”

“According to the 2006 Sudan Household Health Survey, across all Sudan an estimated 31 per cent of children under the age of five suffer from moderate or severe malnutrition, only 11 per cent of the population consumes iodised salt which aids children’s physical and intellectual development, while exclusive breastfeeding of infants up to the age of six months is only practised by one-third of mothers, despite the proven health benefits,” Dr. Olusanmi added.

“By ensuring that these issues are addressed through a standardised policy and strategy reaching down to communities and families, we can make considerable progress towards improving the health of children and mothers.”

Specific attention is paid in the policy to preventing and treating chronic and acute malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency disorders, through improved diet, provision of nutrition services and a combination of micronutrient supplementation and food fortification, supported by improved nutrition education.

At the heart of the new policy is an ‘Essential Nutrition Package’ that directly addresses the issue of maternal and infant malnutrition. The package covers women’s nutrition, birth spacing, promotion of breastfeeding, nutritional care of sick children, micronutrient supplementation (including vitamin A, iron and iodine), diversification of diet, growth monitoring and promotion, immunization and promotion of improved hygiene and sanitation. These priority activities are all proven to have high impact on public health and nutritional impact, and will be delivered by public health and nutrition staff through health facilities and within communities.

The policy also sets out critical activities in support of nutrition and people living with HIV/AIDS, nutrition for older people, improved education on nutrition for families, improving and monitoring food quality, and increasing the technical skills of health professionals. It also calls for more joint approaches involving the public and private sector, as well as traditional health partners.

The policy will be officially launched by Her Excellency Dr. Tabita Shokai, the Federal Minister of Health, on Sunday 22 February at the Al Salam Rotana Hotel in Khartoum, starting at 11.a.m. Media are invited to attend.  

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact: Edward Carwardine, Chief, Media & External Relations, UNICEF Sudan, Mobile: +249 (0)912 177 291, Email: ecarwardine@unicef.org
Bismarck Swangin, Communication Officer, UNICEF Southern Sudan, Tel +882 1643 339 905, Email: bswangin@unicef.org




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