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Give South Sudan’s Children a Healthy Start

South Sudan launches mass nutrition screening

JUBA, South Sudan, 14 October 2014 – The South Sudan National and State Ministry of Health, Sanitation and Environment, UNICEF and WFP kicked off a new outreach and a mass-screening campaign today to address the nutrition crisis, which UNICEF says is threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of children.

The first phase of the campaign will see 254 trained social mobilizers from the Government of South Sudan’s Social Mobilization Network go door to door in Juba County.  They will assess, screen and refer children for malnutrition, and also instruct mothers and caregivers in healthy nutrition, hygiene and sanitation practices for their young ones.

“Social mobilization has been essential in numerous health interventions such as polio eradication and cholera response,” said Dr. Emmanuel Ija Bay, Minister of Health, Sanitation and Environment, Central Equatoria State.  “We are proud to deploy them to take on the issue of malnutrition, which traps children into a lifelong cycle of poor nutrition, illness, poverty and inequity.”

The campaign is slated to expand in the coming weeks, with more than 600 social mobilizers reaching over 600,000 children in the high-burden, non-conflict affected states of Warrap and Northern Bahr-Ghazal, in addition to Juba.  

 “It is very important to find children who are sick and get them into care,” said Vilma Tyler, chief of nutrition for UNICEF South Sudan.  “But helping mothers understand good feeding, hygiene and sanitation practices is essential to help families stay healthy over the long term.”

Through the mass screening campaign in Juba County, over 116,000 children aged 6 months to 5 years will be screened and it is estimated that 6,500 children will be treated for Severe Acute Malnutrition in UNICEF-supported Oral Therapeutic Feeding Programmes (OTFP).

The World Food Programme will be treating an estimated 16,700 children identified as suffering from Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) in Juba County and admitting them to Targeted Supplementary Feeding Programmes.

“Juba City is a metropolitan city where we find different nationalities and people from all the ten states of South Sudan,” said Christopher Safarino Wani, Mayor of Juba City. “During this mass screening campaign, I urge you all to make sure you reach out to all these people even in hard to reach locations.”

In addition to the community mobilization, UNICEF will work with the County Health Departments to train staff in the Primary Healthcare Centres and Units in the management of all referral patients.  This training will provide the foundations of South Sudan’s long term and sustainable investment in health and nutrition care for the community.

Nationwide, estimates predict that 235,000 children will suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition by the end of the year.  In response, UNICEF, WFP and the government have put into place multiple strategies, in addition to the community-based approach. 

These include engaging more local partners and improving their ability to treat malnutrition, prepositioning supplies, strengthening the supply pipeline and improving data collection and coordination to ensure that even the most difficult to reach people are served. 

Rapid Response Missions also play a critical role in delivering to the most vulnerable people.  WFP and UNICEF, through airdrops and airlifts, deliver lifesaving nutrition supplies, health and sanitation services to people living in the most neglected areas.  These joint missions have reached nearly 560,000 people and screened over 70,000 children under the age of five for malnutrition.  More than 2,600 children under the age of five have been given treatment for Severe Acute Malnutrition, and mothers and caregivers given important information on healthy feeding for infants and children.

UNICEF is prepositioning nutrition supplies to reach 100,000 more children during the dry season, when it expected that the nutrition crisis will deepen again.

The nutrition scale up has received financing from several donors, including the European Commission - Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO).


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 about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

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For further information, please contact:
Mary Denis, Director Health Promotion, Ministry of Health. mobat_43@yahoo.com; +211954627139
Kate Donovan, UNICEF South Sudan, kdonovan@unicef.org  +211 959 1111 00




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