Good nutrition provides children with the best start in life
When children eat well, they grow well. Children need to feed on well balanced and nutritious meals to grow and thrive into healthy adults. The absence of sufficient and nutritious meals in a child's life, compromises their growth and development and weakens their bodies and resistance to illness. The risk is greatest in the first two years of life.
In Sudan, millions of children are not getting the right foods they need to grow and survive. Malnutrition remains a major concern in many parts of Sudan - malnutrition develops when the body does not get the proper amount of energy (calories), proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients required to keep the organs and tissues healthy and functioning well.
Three million children under-five years of age currently suffer from acute malnutrition in Sudan. Of these 3 million children, and with food insecurity on the rise in Sudan, UNICEF and partners estimate 650,000 children under-five will be suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in 2022.
Without treatment about half of all children suffering from SAM will not survive.
Investing simultaneously in preventing and treating malnutrition is not only a moral obligation, but also a smart investment: studies show that every USD 1 invested in reducing stunting generates USD 10 in economic returns.
CAUSES OF MALNUTRITION IN SUDAN
- Inadequate dietary intake, suboptimal infant and young child feeding, maternal malnutrition and illnesses/diseases such as diarrheal diseases (all outlined above) are immediate causes of undernutrition in Sudan. Infections increase nutrient requirements and prevent the absorption of foods consumed, while poor dietary intakes result in reduced immunity to infections. This triggers further weight loss and reduced resistance to further infections. Environmental enteropathy, a sub-clinical disorder primarily due to poor sanitation and resulting in intestinal infections, is also an important immediate cause of malnutrition in children occasioned by chronic problems with nutrient absorption.
- The underlying causes of malnutrition are multi-sectoral in nature. Inadequate household income and food insecurity leads to little variety of food. Poor access to basic sanitation and water services is another underlying cause. The correlation between increased use of basic sanitation and water services and the reduction of malnutrition among children under-five is well evidenced in Sudan. Many cultural practices undermine good nutrition, including caregivers’ limited knowledge of malnutrition, early marriage (and childbirth, which affects children’s birth weight) and poor education levels among mothers, which directly affect the nutrition status of young children. Less than half of the population has access to basic services despite efforts to expand the health, nutrition and water and sanitation services and to integrate nutrition into healthcare.
Inadequate dietary intakes during pregnancy and breastfeeding can affect women and subsequently the child. when a mother does not have proper nutrition during pregnancy, her child may be born too small increasing the risk of the child becoming stunted later in life.
During pregnancy and while breastfeeding, women need more nutritious and balanced meals and increased quantities of food to ensure roper growth and development of their babies.
- UNICEF and partners work with communities to reach the most vulnerable children with therapeutic food and care. In the last decade, the nutrition programme has expanded six-fold from treating about 50,000 cases of severely acutely malnourished (SAM) children in 2010 to nearly 300,000 across 1,753 outpatients therapeutic programme centres in 2021.
- UNICEF and partners also work with communities and families to improve infant and young child feeding practices.
- Through UNICEF's efforts affected children are identified and treated.