Ready-to-use-therapeutic-food (RUTF) in Sudan: a closer look

Over 40,000 children under five years of age die annually in Sudan as indirect result of malnutrition, UNICEF works with partners to save children through access to RUTF.

Reem Abbas
malnutrition in Port Siudan
15 February 2022

Ishraqa Ibrahim is a nutrition supervisor at Al-Laloba Health Centre in Al-Laloba neighbourhood, a rural district in the North-Western part of Port Sudan in Red Sea State.

Ishraqa receives dozens of mothers with their children every day. She weighs the children, follows-up on their growth and gives them the necessary support.

“I see many cases of malnutrition especially in the summer as cases increase. This is because of seasonal diseases and contaminated water which causes diarrhoea and leads to malnutrition,” says Ishraqa.

malnutrition in port sudan
Ishraqa Ibrahim weighs the baby of Khadija Mohamed as part of a regular follow-up at Al-Laloba Health center.

Malnutrition is a widespread challenge in Sudan as 128 of Sudan’s 188 localities have a chronic malnutrition (stunting rate) of above 30 per cent which is beyond the very high threshold. As one of the poorest states in Sudan, Red Sea State has the highest prevalence of global wasting which is the most life-threatening form of malnutrition.

Ishraqa mainly sees children from 6 to 59 months, children who have Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) receive RUTF and after the treatment, they also receive vitamins to complement their growth.

In December 2021, Ishraqa was following-up on the cases of 18 children who have SAM to ensure they are progressing well in their treatment.

“In addition to the center, we also do home visits because we want to make sure children have continuous access to our services ,” said Ishraqa.

As a nutrition specialist, Ishraqa is worried about the impact of the economic crisis in Sudan on families as more families are struggling to eat and feed their children nutritious meals and therefore she is worried.

malnutrition in Port Sudan
Badria Abbas, a volunteer in the nutrition unit at Al-Laloba Health Center, thoroughly documents cases of malnutrition.

Badria Abbas volunteers in the nutrition unit at Al-Laloba center. She monitors the cases of children on a daily basis.

“Many children take RUTF, we do the measurements of the mid-upper arm circumference of children (MUAC) to identify their level of malnutrition. If the circumference is below 11.5 cm, then they are in for treatment,” said Badria.

UNICEF supports the health centers as part of its efforts to fight malnutrition and provide lifesaving nutrition services to children in the state. This can’t be done without the availability of RUTF which saves the lives of children in Red Sea state.

In 2021, UNICEF was able to reach 288,000 children who suffer from malnutrition with lifesaving treatment , through multi-donor contribution.

UNICEF is supporting the local procurement of RUTF through agreements with local manufacturers. Local production of RUTF is playing important role in stimulating the local economy and is cost effective. Around two-third of UNICEF needs of RUTF are secured through local production of RUTF.

Through the support of UK National Committee for UNICEF and Vitality, UNICEF was able to provide treatment to 2,230 children suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition through securing the needed quantities of RUTF cartons.