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New data on child malnutrition in Sudan a gold mine, UNICEF says

Country releases new data on child malnutrition

KHARTOUM, Sudan, 29 January 2014 – Data collected in Sudan is revealing for the first time the difference in performance of health and nutrition services in each of Sudan’s 18 states. This has been thanks to the Simple Spatial Survey Methodology (S3M) used to collect data on child malnutrition.

“The S3M survey is a gold mine of credible data on child malnutrition and its underlying causes,” said UNICEF Representative in Sudan Geert Cappelaere. “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.”

“Up-to-date, reliable data are indispensable to realize the right of every child in Sudan,” Mr Cappelaere continued. “With these new survey results, we know exactly where the pockets of high need are located, so 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 show 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 in some areas.

Poor child feeding practices are a problem across the country, with localities in Kassala and Gedaref states among the most critical. The Eastern region and the three Kordofan states have the lowest coverage of safe drinking water and improved latrine facilities, while the Red Sea, Blue Nile and the Darfur region show the highest prevalence of diarrhoea.  On the other hand, use of iodised salt has improved, reaching over 90 per cent of households in some localities in Red Sea, South Darfur, Blue Nile and Kassala.

Data collection for the Sudan S3M was undertaken in June, July and November 2013 involving 133 teams (532 people) and 39 supervisors from state and federal government, at an estimated cost of US$1.5 million.

Now, UNICEF says, 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 2013 and the survey forms part of a national process to give increased attention to child nutrition. 

A nutrition policy brief is already feeding into the development of a broad, multi-sector strategy. A national nutrition council is being formed, under the leadership of the office of the Vice President, drawing membership from relevant ministries.  A comprehensive investment plan for addressing child malnutrition in Sudan is also in the works, as well as plans to make Sudan part of the global Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement.

“The outlines of a solid, tailored and evidence-based response to child malnutrition in Sudan are emerging, said Geert Cappelaere. “I congratulate the Ministry of Health and reiterate UNICEF’s continued support in these efforts. Investing in adequate nutrition for children is a cornerstone of human development – indeed of national economic development. Every child has the right to grow up well-fed and healthy. It is a prerequisite to building an educated and productive citizenry in any nation.”

Cappelaere added: “At UNICEF, we call everyone inside and outside of Sudan to be a part of this drive to stamp out child malnutrition.”

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UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information, visit: www.unicef.org

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For more information contact:

Lone Hvass, UNICEF Khartoum, + 249 969 272 680, lhvass@unicef.org

Mara Nyawo, UNICEF Khartoum, + 249 017 241 566, mnyawo@unicef.org




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